|2013-2014 Syracuse Orange|
|NCAA Round of 32||Schedule Results|
Coach: Jim Boeheim
|Baye Moussa Keita||Sr||C||32||1||497||24||48||50.0%||10||18||55.6%||0||0||---||10||123||54||69||78||2||24||12||30||58||1.8||0.3||3.8|
2013-2014 marked a season of change. The Orange were moving from the Big East Conference, its home since 1980, to the ACC. The starting Final Four backcourt of Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche were gone, along with perimeter sharpshooter James Southerland.
Leading scorer C.J. Fair was returning, and coach Jim Boeheim was hoping he could build a team around him. Freshman Tyler Ennis and sophomore Trevor Cooney were to be the new backcourt, while Rakeem Christmas and Dajuan Coleman were joining Fair on the front line. Jerami Grant was planned to be used in the extensive 6 th man role that Boeheim had come to like.
Syracuse was staying with its well documented zone defense. Despite the loss of three key players, Syracuse’s Final Four appearance from last season had the Orange ranked #8 to start the year.
Syracuse started the season well. They would beat California, Minnesota and #18 Baylor to win the Maui Classic, with C.J. Fair being the MVP of the tournament. They would easily handle Indiana when they got back to Syracuse.
They would have a tough game against former Big East foe St. John’s, with the Orange eventually winning 68-63 behind Fair and Ennis’ 21 points.
Ennis was proving to be a very effective point guard, running the offense well, making the big shots when needed and rarely every turning the ball over. Cooney was making the perimeter shots, and Fair was being a strong all-around player. Christmas, Coleman and Baye Moussa Keita were a strong front three and Grant was superb off the bench.
The Orange were 11-0 when they played #8 Villanova at the Carrier Dome. The Wildcats were hot early in the game and led 25-7 halfway through the first half. The Orange would then go on a 20 run, overtaking Villanova, and pulling away to make the game lopsided down the stretch. Cooney and Ennis would lead the way with 21 and 20 points respectively.
The win was costly as Dajuan Coleman hurt his knee, and would be lost for the season. Christmas had to move over to the center position, and Grant moved into the starting rotation.
The Orange’s first ACC game would be against the Miami Hurricanes on January 4 th. The Orange struggled to shoot (particularly Cooney) and trailed in the second half 35-29. Syracuse would take the lead and Cooney and Ennis hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the win as the Orange moved to 14-0.
A few games later the Orange would face former Big East foe Pittsburgh, who had also jumped to the ACC. The 18 th ranked Panthers gave the Orange a handful as they usually did. Syracuse trailed 52-49 with about 5 ½ minutes to go in the game. Ennis would score 6 points in the last two minutes to allow Syracuse to take the lead and win the game, as the team moved to 18-0.
The biggest hyped game of the season would occur February 1 st, as an NCAA record crowd at the Carrier Dome saw the Orange take on #17 Duke in their first ACC encounter. The game was extremely well played, with few turnovers between the two teams and solid shooting. Duke’s Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson both fouled out as they struggled to keep up with Fair, Christmas and Grant. Syracuse had a three point lead, when Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon made an off-balance 3 point shot at the buzzer to tie the game and send it to overtime. Jerami Grant would dominate the overtime period scoring 8 points as the Orange would go on to win 91-89. The Orange would move to #1 in the rankings after the win.
A couple games later the Orange faced Notre Dame (who had also jumped from the Big East to the ACC). Most Syracuse players struggled to score in the game; fortunately, for the Orange, Trevor Cooney had his best game of the season hitting nine of twelve three point shots to score 33 points. The Orange were now at 22-0.
The Orange went down to play Pitt at the Pederson center, a notoriously difficult arena to play in. Baye Moussa Keita would miss the game as he injured his knee the game before. The game was a tight game, but Pitt pulled out to a 54-48 lead with less than two minutes to play. Fair would hit a 3 point shot to bring it to a three point game, and with 51 second left he hit a 2 point shot to make it a one point game 54-53. Pitt would miss its next shot, and Tyler Ennis would be fouled. Ennis would calmly make his two free throws to give the Orange a 55-54 lead with 10 seconds to go. Pitt’s Talib Zanna was fouled trying to make a layup with 4.4 seconds to go; he would make both of his free throws to give Pitt the 56-55 lead.
Syracuse inbounded the ball to Ennis, who drove down the right side of the court. He was looking for Fair, but Fair was covered. Ennis would cut between two Pitt defenders and right before the buzzer he would launch a 35 foot game winning shot giving the Orange the 57-56 win. The Orange moved to 24-0.
The Orange would play North Carolina State the next game. The game was in Syracuse, but was delayed four hours because of a bad snow storm that prevented the Wolfpack from getting to the Dome. The game was tight (again), and the Wolfpack led by a point with 10 seconds to go. Christmas would steal the inbound pass from the Wolfpack, and feed it to C.J. Fair who would lay it in and give the Orange the lead with 6.7 seconds to go. They would hold on to win 56-55.
The Orange just set a school record with their 25 th win in a row, and were at 25-0. They had overcome a season ending injury to Coleman, recurring injuries to Keita and Grant, and some poor shooting nights. Unfortunately, the season was about to fall apart.
The Orange would lose their first game of the season, when Boston College beat them 62-59 in overtime.
They traveled down to North Carolina to face #5 Duke. Again, it was a great game. With ten seconds left in the game, Syracuse trailed 60-58. Fair drove to the basket for a game tying layup, but the officials ruled that Fair had charged (replays were inconclusive on that) and ruled off the basket. Coach Boeheim threw off his coat, stormed onto the court to argue the call, and was ejected (for the first time in his career). This resulted in a technical, and the ball given back to Duke, which allowed the Blue Devils to win 66-60.
Syracuse would end up losing four of its last six games in the regular season, and were not playing well going into the ACC tournament. The Orange met North Carolina State in the first round of the ACC. The Orange trailed by 10 points in the second half, but eventually tied it back up. However, the Wolfpack would be able to pull out the win at the end. Syracuse had 6 shot attempts on their last possession to tie the game, including four three point attempts, but missed them all.
The Orange were a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament and would face Western Michigan in the first round as the team had a balance scoring effort and shot well. They faced the Dayton Flyers in the second round of the tournament, and the Flyers were more difficult to deal with. The Orange continued to shoot poorly and would not make a three point shot in the game. Ennis had an open look at a three point shot to win the game on the last shot, but the shot missed. And the Orange’s season had ended.
© RLYoung 2013, 2014