March 14, 2011
The Case for The 'Cuse
First lets start with the obvious, in 2003 Syracuse was the #3 seed in the East. In 2011 they are again the #3 seed in the east, a pretty good place to start the comparison. The last time the Syracuse lost to Uconn in the Big East Tournament was 2003. This year, of course, they lost to UConn once again. This is a very sore subject as I hate Uconn, but if we have to lose to them to win the National Championship, so be it. In 2003 the Orange had one senior, Kueth Duany. This years version also has only one senior, Rick Jackson. The two are completely different players but both provided that much needed team leader. In 2003 they had three Freshman contribute significant playing time, Gerry Macnamara, Billy Edelin, and of course Carmelo Anthony. Now this years team has four freshman but I am only going to count Baye Moussa-Keita and Fab Melo as one guy, lets be honest they don't contribute enough to be considered two players. That leaves C.J. Fair, and Dion Waiters as the two other Freshman. So that makes three freshman. Hmmm. There was a lefty in 2003 that was quirky, Josh Pace. This year we have Fair. Both somewhat unorthodox players, but also guys that got the job done. The big difference between the two teams was obviously Carmelo, but we won't get into that because that is not the basis of my comparison.
From a stats standpoint a couple of things stand out. This year SU was second in the country in Blocked Shots per game. In 2003 they were also #2 in that category. I know, this is getting pretty eerie. The Field Goal percentage defense is something that also stands out. In 2003 SU's defense allowed opponents to shoot 39.0 percent from the field, this years squad allowed opponents to shoot 39.3 percent, pretty close numbers. As we all know in 2003 Syracuse played there first round games in Boston, MA. If you look at the distance from The Carrier Dome to the TD Garden it's 313 miles and you can drive there in around 5:15. This year the opening round is in Cleveland and the distance from the Dome to Quicken Loans Arena is 335 miles and you can drive there in 5:34. I will call this a wash because the people of Syracuse are a smart bunch who I am sure could get there faster and find a shorter way. Both number one seeds in their bracket started with the letter "O." Oklahoma in 2003 and Ohio St. this year. Both of which are more known for their football teams.
Of course there is a possible matchup with a Roy Williams team should they advance and we all know who was the coach of the losing squad in the 2003 National Championship game. Finally who is looming on the other side of the bracket? None other than Kansas and we all know who SU won their only title against. Is there any reason to actually play the tournament this year? It all seems too similar to not happen again.