First some blogosphere stuff: we just added an impressive new Syracuse-related blog to the roll on the right. Many of the other Syracuse blogs already picked up on them, but we’re also psyched about CuseAdelphia, we’re just a little slow on the uptake. It’s a group of journalism guys at SU, blogging about Syracuse sports and Philly pro teams. That works out well for many in the Syracuse community, considering how many of us have been sucked into Eagles fanhood thanks to Donovan. More importantly, they write in the sophisticated style of folks training for careers in the written word, which is exactly the kind of action I’m looking for. Those guys and T3I are my favorite new blogs in the Syracuse world (which already boasts a deep and quality lineup, I might add). Both of these sites insist on boring me with occasional content unrelated to Syracuse (ha!), but I’m recommending them anyway. On that note, it’s nice to see Orange::44 veteran Matt Glaude finally getting back on the horse at his new home over at House Of Orange, though his content is a little esoteric even for me.
On to the game…
I couldn’t be happier with the St John’s results. Not because there weren’t serious flaws on display, or major areas of concern, but because it represented the perfect introduction to the Big East for our freshmen. The action on the court was fierce and brutal; the collisions inside were intense; the passion of the opponent was self-evident. This was a man’s Big East game, just like almost all league games will be. You could even say that it was an, ahem, dogfight. I saw a Syracuse team that learned a lot about what it’s going to take to win.
In the first ten minutes we couldn’t have played any better. We came out on fire at both ends, playing inspired defense and silky smooth offense. Donte was draining everything, Arinze was scoring inside, Jonny was in control and scoring, Paul was in the mix…and yet look what happened. They never pulled away. They got the lead to about ten and that was it. A few blown possessions here and there, and in the blink of an eye the lead was gone. We never really stopped playing well, but lo and behold, the hapless Johnnies were right in the game, almost the whole way.
That’s reality in the Big East. Sixteenth ranked Villanova went to lowly DePaul last night and got beat. High flying West Virginia found themselves grounded by the suddenly gritty Notre Dame. UConn and Seton Hall banged all night long. Every game in the Big East is brutal, no matter what kind of talent advantage you have. Our guys need to learn that fast. Only Marquette has produced a blowout win so far this year. That’s why this game against St John’s was perfect: all our guys ended up bruised and exhausted and bloodied (literally in Arinze’s case), but they absorbed the reality check and emerged victorious. They now can see what everyone’s been telling them: even a team like the Red Storm, who is clearly one of the 3 worst teams in the league, is going to battle you right to the end.
Statistically we should have won this one going away. We had major advantages in shooting percentage for and against, three point shooting, free throws attempted (and fouls drawn), assists, turnovers, steals, etc etc. We only underperformed in rebounding. And yet it was a 6 point game, undecided until the final 30 seconds. This is how it’s going to be all season long. I hope they enjoyed it!