It’s been awhile since the last post, so today I’m going to touch on a variety of things that would otherwise make for a very disjointed blog post. This will probably still be disjointed, but if nothing else, I’ve already lowered your expectations, so there’s that. Onward!
- This week, the undefeated talk has picked up, in some ways sparked by Dick Vitale of all people, who predicted that the Orange would come into postseason play without a blemish. I’m high enough on the Orange and low enough on the other 15 teams in the Big East that I don’t think it’s completely unrealistic, but it’s still something I’m trying to wrap my head around. We’ve talked plenty about how the schedule is backloaded with four games against UConn and Louisville late in the season, but otherwise, very few matchups seem all that imposing. While I still believe that to be true, the Orange play three of their next four on the road, so I’d advise caution in thinking too far down the line
- TeamRankings.com puts SU’s chances at winning the Big East at 92.4% and we’re not even halfway through conference play. To me, that’s a reflection on several things: The high level of play displayed by the Orange, the underwhelming performance of the rest of the conference, and a few breaks the team caught by the scheduling computers. Cincinnati is the conference’s second place team du jour, but a visit to Morgantown Saturday means that it’s hardly a guarantee that the Bearcats will be in that position when the Orange take a trip to the Queen City on Monday.
- Fab Melo has more blocks by himself than nearly half the teams in Division I. I came to this realization after seeing a few tweets saying that Kentucky’s Anthony Davis would rank 41st in the nation in blocks if he were an entire team. Entering Thursday’s action, Melo’s 60 blocks puts him on equal footing with Gonzaga and ahead of top-ten team Missouri. It’s tough to look around the conference and see a more improved player – Henry Sims may have a case, off the top of my head – but Melo’s value to the Orange is emphasized when you factor in Baye Keita’s regression and Rakeem Christmas’ youth behind him. It’ll be interesting to see how many Big East teams will venture away from their traditional game plans just to try to get Melo on the bench early with foul trouble, because there aren’t many other ways to neutralize his presence.
- There’s been some discussion of where Jim Boeheim fits in the National Coach Of The Year picture. Some national writers have veered off the usual “doing the most with the least” formula in citing the unique circumstances the ‘Cuse has dealt with and the undefeated record in spite of the perceived lack of a slam-dunk lottery pick, throwing Jim Boeheim’s name into the ring. There’s no doubt that he’s done an impressive job, but I think there are several candidates who are more likely choices. Assuming Indiana snaps out of its funk, Tom Crean would be a front-runner in my mind, and let’s not forget that (gulp) Georgetown wasn’t ranked to start the season and had three good wins before conference play even started. There’s plenty of time to sort that mess out, though, so let’s stick a pin in this one and revisit it later.
- As we get deeper into the season, we’re starting to see a couple cracks develop that have provided a blueprint to beating the Orange, aside from the usual standbys of backdoor cuts, hitting shots from the elbow and raining threes. Limiting SU’s transition game and forcing the Orange to run halfcourt sets is much easier said than done, but Pittsburgh revealed that it’s half the battle. Executing offensively is the other half, and that’s where the Panthers fell short on Monday. The Bearcats and Mountaineers rank second and third behind the Orange in offensive efficiency, which leads me to believe they have the best shot of challenging the 2-3 successfully.
- Thursday morning, a Uni Watch rumor surfaced that the Orange would roll out an alternative uniform prominently featuring gray, against the Hoyas of all teams. Nike has tinkered with gray with a few of its partner schools, and I have to say that I think it looks atrocious. It seems that Nike does this kind of thing every couple of years. If you remember, a few years ago they had the Orange wear a uniform that had a faded pattern on the back intended to resemble the Hall of Languages (it looked more like Darth Vader to me, but I digress). In 2008, SU wore blue on the road for the first time in forever and lost at Notre Dame. I tweeted yesterday that if it’s something that happens once in a blue moon, I won’t be that concerned, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother me. Orange is SU’s tradition, and even if veering from that is a one-game novelty, it doesn’t make it any less silly. I think most fans would love to see a throwback to the cursive uniforms or the arched lettering that was prominent from the mid-90’s through 2004, but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards. On a less important note, beating Georgetown in their color would be pretty fun, but it’s important to bear in mind that all of this isn’t based on anything more than a rumor.
I’ll be venturing into the world of natural light, motor traffic and verbal face-to-face interaction on my way to watching the Orange tomorrow afternoon. As a result, there may not be much tweeting going on, so you can be thankful for that. Now, about finding those pants…