Cuse Country

Home Away From Dome for Syracuse Orange Fans

New Jersey is Cuse Country

Posted by Josh on January 11, 2007

Just returned from an epic (not really) trek up I-95 & Ye Olde NJ Turnpike to see the game at the RAC. My second time there. It’s a fun place to see a game — one of those smallish on-campus facilities where all the seats are looming right above the court, and the fans were into it from before the opening tip, with particularly lusty boos for the two SU starters from NJ. A healthy contingent of Orange faithful at the game, too; we were able to get a few sturdy “Lets Go Orange” chants going at various times, and when threw down the alley-oop to put us up 17, the cheers resounded loud enough (thanks to the RAC’s hollow metal shell) that for a moment you thought you might be back home.

The game reminded me a lot of the Marquette game, in the sense that when SU was playing well, they were clearly the better team and handled things fairly easily, but there were stretches of the game in which the players made chunks of poor decisions (bad passes, ill-advised shots, silly fouls) that allowed Rutgers to hang around and make a game of it. Right now this team is not going to beat many substantial teams until they can stop beating themselves. (Though Marquette beat UConn tonight in Storrs, so who knows what “substantial” means in the Big East right now.) On the other hand, when they finally put a complete game together it is going to be a jewel to watch. And in fact there were some encouraging signs in that regard:

  • Mookie is now officially a low-post threat. When things were not working on the perimeter, they deliberately looked to get the ball inside to him. Sometimes he scored (including a nice up-and-under early in the game), sometimes he missed, and sometimes he passed it out after drawing the defense. But opponents now know they must respect his post game, which is a huge positive going forward.

  • The zone defense looked really sharp tonight (and they played some solid stretches of man too). Guys were sliding to their spots with arms up, getting out on Rutgers’ perimeter shooters. Again, like the Marquette game, it helps tremendously when the opponent doesn’t have a major offensive threat in the paint. It allows the forwards to extend further into the corners and out on the wings, cutting down on the open 3-point opportunities.

  • Andy Rautins had an excellent opening to the game, scoring the team’s first 4 points and 9 of the first 11. He did not score after that but it was good to see him in a groove for a little while there. In fact, I have a feeling that Andy’s hot start contributed to Devendorf’s awful start — when Eric came in, he made several bad plays early, including awkwardly shooting an airball and trying to force his drive into the teeth of the defense. It looked like he wanted to “make something happen”; my hunch is that this was because he saw that Rautins would otherwise be getting a chunk of his minutes. Lucky for us Devo settled down and let the game come to him, picked his spots, you know, all that cliched stuff that the announcers are always saying. There is a reason cliches come into being.

  • Terrence Roberts made a long jump shot, much to the amazement of everyone in Piscataway, if not the entire tri-state area.

So there’s a lot to build on from this game. (And lessons to learn from the stretches of poor play, which I’d rather not chronicle.) They continue to show improvement — overall this is definitely a better team than the one that lost to Drexel, for instance. I just hope they someday find their way to All Systems Go.


2 Responses to “New Jersey is Cuse Country”

  1. So……..did you stop by the Grease Trucks?

  2. Josh said

    No but I did have some tasty “Mini-changas” at a local mexican spot beforehand. Did you know New Brunswick is “The Healthcare City”? It is painted on their overpasses. Classy.

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