After thorough analysis of the Orange’s recent defensive performances, especially our propensity to give up a benjamin worth of points, the boys showed up tonight. Yes, Syracuse lost again to fall to 2-6 over their last eight games (they don’t call it the gauntlet for nothing), but the defense showed spark, hustle, and intensity right from the start of the game. Against the Number One team in the nation. Every pass, every shot, and every loose ball was contested.
Kristof played like he was channeling the ghost of Mike Hopkins (a difficult challenge since he was standing on the sidelines). Rafferty and McDonough claimed at one point that U-Conn was playing a sloppy game, but so many of U-Conn’s 20 turnovers were forced by man after man getting in the face of their opponents, as evidenced by 11 steals for six different Syracuse players. The Orange lost by 14 tonight, but I was more proud of them than I have been over this recent stretch. If we had come out like we did tonight against Villanova, Pittsbugh, Georgetown, etc., we wouldn’t have won all of those games, but we would have won a few, and we would have been competitive in all of them.
Since we have been rightly pointing out the hundred point losses of late, I need to mention that only West Virginia has held U-Conn to fewer points this year and Georgetown held them to the same number (63) to beat the Huskies for their only loss. If the offense can show up with more than 49 points, tonight’s defensive effort shines a positive light for the remainder of the season and for the post-season. I’m headed up to Syracuse for the Orange-out on Saturday, since my girlfriend surprised me on my birthday with tickets for the Georgetown game. I also went down to DC for the debacle at the Verizon Center. I hope tonight’s team shows up this weekend. Then we win.