Cuse Country

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An eventful Saturday night

Posted by Josh on December 17, 2006

Before my thoughts on the Baylor game, in my unofficial capacity as SU-NBA chronicler I must mention the massive brawl between the Nuggets and the Knicks tonight, in which Carmelo was thoroughly involved (he punched Mardy Collins in the face). It’s likely he will get suspended for at least a few games. My assumption is that he was mad at Collins for snitching. More on the brawl and its aftermath in the next Pro Update in a day or so, once the dust settles.

I got to watch most of the Baylor game and overall I actually felt good about the team’s play (for the first time in a while). They appear to have used the week between games to legitimately address some of the areas in which they’d been struggling. They did a much better job rebounding on the defensive end (in fact gave up only 4 offensive rebounds). The offense looked a lot smoother. There was quite a bit of ball movement with purpose, not just tossing around the perimeter haphazardly. They worked it into the post. Watkins had several offensive sets go through him. Josh Wright had 9 assists, only took 2 shots, and generally played under control. There were a couple times he forced the issue but for the most part he was just what the team needs him to be. And they hit their free throws (Mookie 7-10!). Plus Nichols is looking more and more comfortable at being the offensive leader and getting his shot, while the rest of the team is looking to find him when he is feeling it. He also was showing a bit of spunk and emotion — even on such simple things as SU being awarded the ball out of bounds after a rebounding scuffle. He looks like he is on his way to being The Man. (With apologies to Eugene Levy.) I am anxious to see how he does against the more athletic defenders in the Big East — if he can keep his game up in conference play, the prospects for the season will suddenly be a lot brighter.

There were (of course) some warts. A few times you could tell that they were not focused or were being too casual with the game (for example, taking a 3-pointer with 10 minutes left and only a 10-pt lead). The defense particularly suffered at these times — Baylor even converted a Gerry-to-Hakim-esque alleyoop behind the back line of the zone. (Minus the rim-destroying dunk.)But this behavior was much more intermittent than it was in earlier games, when they were often listless for long stretches. Also, Paul Harris was not really on his game for the 2nd straight contest — though he scored 15, a lot of that was late when the outcome was not in question. And he and Devendorf did most of their damage from the foul line. On one hand this is a good sign — that these guys know to get to the line to create points. But it is questionable whether such an approach will be as successful in Big East play. I’d much rather see them score in the half-court.

More tidbits: Andy Rautins got his first career start, with Devendorf coming off the bench. This is the second straight game with Devo out of the starting lineup — although he has got to be over his illness by now, because he played starters’ minutes. I’m curious whether this is just a psychological thing to help Devo’s game, or if he is in the doghouse somewhat, or if it is just early-season lineup tinkering. Time will tell (I hope, because JB sure won’t). Mike Jones had a few good minutes, though he got the classic Boeheim Hook (and a bit of the gas face) for failing to hustle after a loose ball. He’ll learn. D-B-Mac got in at the end and did not look totally terrible. If he gets pressed into emergency duty sometime in a game that matters, well, it will still suck but I no longer think that I will have to turn away from the screen.

By the way, where is Rautins’ famed shooting stroke? He was only 2-8 on threes. A couple seemed rushed but others were the kind of shot that he is being paid to knock down. (Figuratively speaking of course.) His best looking shots were those where he took a dribble to get the defender to go by him — it helped his rhythm a lot. But that is a luxury he won’t have most of the time. Leo, run your boy in some catch-and-shoot drills eh!

And finally, this photo from the game shows Jim Boeheim bellowing an incantation and reaching deep into his soul to summon the Great Power as he prepares to do battle against the Dark Lords of Evil:

(Coach Murphy appears unconcerned.)


One Response to “An eventful Saturday night”

  1. syracusan said

    We must have been typing our posts at the same time. Next time I should wait to write mine up until after the guy who actually saw the game… 😉

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