|2014-2015 Syracuse Orange|
|Banned from Post Season Activity||Schedule Results|
Coach: Jim Boeheim
Syracuse would start the season with a need to replace several key starters, some who had left early for the NBA. C.J. Fair and Baye Mousa Keita had graduated, while Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis declared early for the draft. Coach Jim Boeheim would once again have to hope upon the quick development of some freshman players to have a successful season. Freshmen point guard Kaleb Joseph and forward Chris McCullough were slated to be starters, along with senior center Rakeem Christmas, junior shooter Trevor Cooney, and sophomore forward Tyler Roberson. Junior Michael Gbinije was going to be counted on to be the key reserve back up both guards and the small forward position. The team was hoping that junior center DaJuan Coleman would recover enough from his knee surgery to be able to play come January.
Early in the season the Orange were struggling offensively and defensively. They would win their first two games, but lose to California, and win a close game over Iowa. The team's defense slowly started to round into shape, but the team was horrific from three point range, and it was struggling to close out games.
Roberson would suffer an abdominal strain forcing him to miss three of the next four games. Classmate B.J. Johnson would replace him in the lineup for the next three games. Johnson however struggled on both ends of the court, and Boeheim move Gbinije into the starting lineup.
Syracuse faced #17 Michigan in Arbor. Michigan had a 10 point lead in the second half; the Orange would rally and tie the game at 63-63, The Wolverine's Spike Albrecht would hit a three point shot to give Michigan a 66-63 lead with 31 seconds to. Gbinije scored to make the game 66-65, and Michigan would miss the front end of the ensuing free throw attempt giving the Orange a chance. However, back-to-back turnovers from the freshmen McCullough and Joseph would prevent them from getting a chance to win the game, and the Wolverines would hold on to win 68-65.
Syracuse would lose their second game in a row, with St. John's blowing open a close game in the last few minutes. The Orange shot an abysmal 3 of 22 from three point range, and 10 of 20 from the free throw line, both unfortunate trends the team was seeing for the season.
A couple of games later the Orange had a chance to redeem themselves against #7 Villanova. The Orange led by 15 points in the second half, but the Wildcats would rally and tie the game on a JayVaughn Pinkston with 4 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime. The Wildcats scored first in overtime, and never looked back going on to win 82-77. The loss would be Syracuse's fourth in non-conference play, the most Syracuse ever had since joining conference play in 1979-1980.
Rakeem Christmas was showing that he was one of the most improved players in the country, both on the offensive and defensive end of the court. However, Cooney and Gbinije were inconsistent, and McCullough, who had started the season off strong, was slumping horribly. Joseph was struggling one offense and defense, and sophomore Ron Patterson started splitting time with him in the backcourt.
The Orange would put together a seven game winning streak. The team was fortunate that the ACC schedule favored them with the weaker teams earlier in the schedule. The wins did not all come easy, as the Orange made games close by continuing to miss a lot of free throws down the stretch, and were inconsistent from the outside. And the team was starting to lose more players. DaJuan Coleman's knee surgery recovery was not going as quickly as hoped, and the team announced in early January he would not play for the season. McCullough would tear the ACL in his knee against Florida State, and would be lost for the season. The Orange would be down to eight scholarship players for the rest of the season.
Cooney would carry the Orange to the win over Florida State hitting 7 of 11 three point shots on his way to 28 points; he would follow up with another hot shooting night to help beat Wake Forest in overtime. Christmas would lead the way in the Wake Forest game with a career high 35 points. Syracuse led Wake Forest 71-68 when Gbinije made two free throws with 21 seconds remaining. However the Demon Deacons Cornelius Hudson hit a three pointer with 14 seconds later that forced the game to go overtime The Orange would grab an early lead in overtime, and Wake Forest kept fouling Syracuse trying to get back in. But Christmas made six of six free throws, to help the Orange hold onto the win.
The Orange would then lose three of their next four games, with the only consistent good play being from Christmas, who was still putting up great numbers despite being double and triple teamed each night.
Syracuse would play Virginia Tech and the team again continued to struggle offensively. With about 6:29 left in the game, the Orange trailed by 13 points. Boeheim had the team switch to a full court press and half court trap, and though they still were not shooting well, the Orange were able to get back into the game forcing 8 turnovers from the Hokies. Gbinije would make two free throws with 19 second left in the game to tie the score 70-70, completing the comeback. Syracuse forced another Hokie turnover with 8 seconds to go, and Gbinije would hit a nice short jumper with less than a second remaining to win the game 72-70.
Celebration for the game was short lived as 24 hours later Syracuse University announced it was banning the team from all post season play due to NCAA infractions that occurred between 2007 and 2012.
Gbinije would step up his game another notch, and put together a nice streak of games. Some of the other players finally started to contribute. Kaleb Joseph would go 7-7 in a win over Boston College, and Tyler Roberson would score 19 points and pull down 10 rebounds against #4 Duke. Syracuse fans poured out in record numbers on a 0 degree Valentines Day game, to watch another exciting Duke / Syracuse game.
Syracuse would pull its first upset of the season with a 69-59 win over #12 Louisville. Christmas would have a stellar night with 29 points on a blistering 9 of 10 shots from the floor, and 11 for 13 from the free throw line. Cooney would hurt his back in the Louisville game, and that would hurt the team for a few games.
Syracuse lost a close game to Pitt at the Dome, with two controversial calls in the last minute thwarted a serious Syracuse comeback. The Orange were down by one point when Christmas was called for a moving pick near the top of the key, when there appeared to be no movement. Then on the ensuing inbounds Syracuse effectively trapped the Pitt guard who clearly took several steps and should have been called for traveling. Instead he was able to get the pass off and Pitt broke the press to extend their lead to three and Syracuse couldn't threaten again.
The Orange traveled to South Bend to face #9 Notre Dame. Syracuse jumped out to an early lead, which was fortunate since Christmas had three fouls in the first half. Christmas would eventually foul out with about six minutes to go and Syracuse had an 8 point lead. Notre Dame would quickly get the lead down to three point game. However, Cooney, who had been struggling with back pain, would make seven straight points, including a couple of baskets as the shot clock was expiring. B.J. Johnson helped the Orange all night with his season best 19 points.
Syracuse would lose its last three games of the season, in each game having a difficult second half and falling well behind. This included losses to #4 ranked Duke and #2 ranked Virginia.
The day before the last game of the season, the NCAA announced its sanctions against Syracuse University for its transgressions. The school would have some hefty fines, would have to vacate 108 victories, forfeit 12 scholarships over the next four seasons, and coach Jim Boeheim would be suspended for the first 9 ACC games of the 2015-2016 season.
© RLYoung 2014, 2015