Monday, January 21, 2013

Man Down...Carter-Williams Steps Up

It's only mid-January, but the action this weekend in college basketball had a March feel to it. With Lance, Manti, Lennay, NFL Conference Championship dominating headlines the last few days, college basketball nudged its way into the fold with a couple of impressive performances.

While we'll focus on two come-from-behind wins for Syracuse, we can't talk about the weekend of college hoops without giving some love to Butler, Roosevelt Jones, Brad Stevens, Jimmy Chitwood and the Hinkle Magic. If this video doesn't give you some sort of chills, there is something wrong with you.

Butler pulled off the win over Gonzaga, an instant classic between two "mid-majors" that both have a chance to make a run to the Final 4 this year. Even more impressive, the Dawgs (Butler not Gonzaga) got the win without their leading scorer, Rotnei Clark, who missed the last two games with a neck injury. Clark has produced some of his own magic for Butler this season.

Earlier in the day, Syracuse traveled to the Yum! to take on top ranked Louisville. It would be the Orange's second game without super 6th man James Southerland, who is out indefinitely due to some academic issues (Southerland being ineligible a year after Fab Melo had issues is a whole other story that we could explore at length...what's the issue guys? Go to class and do you work. It's not THAT difficult).

Sure Southerland comes off the bench, but in Jim Boeheim's world, that doesn't really matter (see: Waiters, Dion). Southerland's impact can be seen in the box score despite not starting. The senior is 2nd in scoring, 4th in minutes, 3rd in rebounding and is the teams best 3-point shooter as what people are now calling a stretch-4 (a forward who can shoot it from deep got it, stretch the floor).

In Southerland's first game out, Syracuse overcame an ugly first half to eventually pull away from a pesky Villanova team at the Dome. This weekend's match up with Louisville, arguably the best team in the Big East, if not the country (Boeheim believes this), would prove what Syracuse would be able to do with Southerland who may not return this season.

A classic Big East battle between two top 6 teams that will be playing in the ACC next year ensued on Saturday afternoon. Tied at the half, Louisville held a slim lead the majority of the 2nd half. SU finally regained the lead with 5:30 to play thanks to five straight points from Michael Carter-Williams. MCW, who struggled the majority of the game put the team on his shoulders down the stretch. He did it on both ends of the court, including a steal, dunk and faceful of hardwood to give the Cuse the lead for good....see for yourself.

MCW then made 1 of 2 free throws to put SU up 2 with 13 seconds left. On Louisville's final possession, it was Carter-Williams who came away with a steal to seal the deal.

Let's take a step back and recap the last 6 minutes of the game:

MCW scored 10 of the last 12 points for Syracuse. The other basket, a layup by Jerami Grant (a Daily Onions favorite) was assisted by Carter-Williams. On Louisville's final three possessions...MCW had a steal, had a rebound (off of a Grant block) and added another steal on the final play of the game.

The kid gets it. Sure, he has some growing up to do and he has a tendency to start slow in games, but he has the ability to take over a game on both ends of the floor. It's the reason NBA scouts have him as a top 10 pick next year.

Great. He has a good game on a big stage. How does he follow up that up less than 48 hours later? Well for one thing, he gets Bill Raftery a little excited....

With 3 minutes left, Syracuse found itself trailing Cincinnati by four points. Enter MCW. Five straight points by the sophomore tied the game at 55. A CJ Fair tip-in following a Jerami Grant drive with 22 seconds left would give the Orange the 57-55 win.

Carter-Williams would finish with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 steal. Oh by the way, he only turned it over 3 times.

I'm not ready to retire his number or name a practice facility after him, but its been a pretty impressive 48 hours for Michael Carter-Williams. A McDonald's All-American two years ago, who almost transferred last year because he had to sit behind Triche, Waiters and Scoop, its safe to say its been worth the wait for Orange nation. With or without Southerland, Michael Carter-Williams has shown he can step up when his team needs it the most.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Video Onions: McLemore, Mountaineers, Paul, Franklin and more...

Best way to relive some of last night's best plays, whether it was a dunk or Onions in the bank, is to see the video...

Let's start with Kansas, who barely escaped Iowa State at home, in overtime (97-89). The Jayhawks were down three in the final seconds, when Ben McLemore hit his fifth 3-pointer of the game. Chaos commences at the Phog.

McLemore finished the game 6-6 from 3, and 10-12 from the field, ending with 33 points. Kansas escaped this one and narrowly defeated Temple at home over the weekend. On the other side, The Mayor, Fred Hoiberg, will second guess his strategy not to foul Kansas, when his Cyclones held a 3 point lead under 5 seconds. The #foulordefend debate is a good on. Check out the hashtag on twitter.

Our old friends down in Morgantown, WV had a big road test last night in the Big 12. At Texas, the Mountaineers led by 3 with just five seconds left. They chose not to foul. Any guesses what happened next? From the corner....

Luckily, WVU ended up winning the game in overtime 57-53, which could have saved their season. A nice road win in conference to hopefully get Huggins' crew back on track.

In the Big Ten, it took only 3 minutes and change for Brandon Paul of Illinois to put Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe on a poster.

Mbakwe and the 8th ranked Gophers had the last laugh though, winning 84-67.

Jamaal Franklin of San Diego State got his Dunk Contest resume tape ready last night, going a little Tracy McGrady, off the backboard to himself.

Other games of note in the Big East: Syracuse got a road win at the Dunkin' Donuts Center, beating Providence 72-66. The Orange rallied from a 9 point first half deficit. Rutgers, who is 2-1 after Daily Onions wrote about Mike Rice, got a nice road win over St. John's, while Villanova won its 7th straight game with a victory at South Florida. Nova heads to the Dome on Saturday to square of with Syracuse, and Daily Onions will be there.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Notre Dame Wins!

In the Daily Onions universe, this headline is true. Notre Dame did indeed win last night, on the basketball court. Eddie Lacy, AJ McCarron, Amari Cooper, Nick Saban, Ha Ha Clinton-Dixon (who doesn't love a Ha Ha) and AJ McCarron's girlfriend made sure that Notre Dame wasn't even close to winning on the football field last night.
Now that we've mentioned Katherine Webb, like every other blog out there, we can move on to the real reason we are here.
The Big East conference season is underway. It is time to figure out who is for real, who looked really good out of conference but has stumbled out of the conference schedule gates and who deserves some more attention from the conference.
Here are two teams that haven't had the conference starts they were really hoping for...
-Pitt Happens: The Panthers, coming off a disappointing season (College Basketball Invitational, anyone?), got off to a good start this year. With 12 wins in their first 13 games (one loss to Michigan), Pitt was ranked in the Top 25 as Big East play started. They lost at home to Cincinnati and then went to the RAC and fell to Rutgers. Things don't get any easier as tonight they'll be on the road again at Georgetown. Panthers staring at an 0-3 start in conference play. 
-Bearcats Down: The 'Nati was ranked #8 in the country just two weeks ago. Lots of chatter about how good they were and everyone was very high on Sean Kilpatrick (as they should be). They won their first 12 games, lost a tough one at home to New Mexico State by 1, and then kicked off conference play with a victory at Pitt. Last Saturday, St. John's came to town and downed the Bearcats, and then last night Notre Dame beat them on their home court. For those of your scoring at home, they've lost 3 of last 4 games, all at home. Not a good recipe for success in conference.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The All "That Guy is Still in School?!" Team

We've all done it. You are watching a college basketball game and you see that player and you say, "Wait....he's STILLLL in school?" It happens a handful of times each year, and basically it means that the player is good enough to get solid playing time as a freshman, but not a sure thing at the next level that would lead them to leave school early.

This year is no different. Plenty of players out there that have been around around forever. Now presenting, the Daily Onions All "That Guy is Still in School?!" Team.

First Team
Peyton Siva - Louisville (Unanimous selection): Loyal reader Ramy actually sent us a text a few weeks back saying/asking "Siva is STILL at Louisville?!" See it really does happen.

CJ Fair/Brandon Triche - Syracuse: Fair has been a solid contributor for 4 years, but Triche is on the verge of getting the Craig Forth Award for starting every game of his four-year college career. Cuse fans will miss these two guys a lot next year (EDITOR'S NOTE: We had convinced ourselves that Fair had been at Syracuse for so long that he was a Senior. Well, he's only a Junior. So good news, he'll be back next year, and an automatic first teamer).

Miles Mason Plumlee - Duke: Good news, there is a younger brother Marshall, who is a redshirt freshman on the Duke roster.

Travis Releford - Kansas: Releford is a player that you might not know the name, but when you see him, you know exactly who he is...and then you wonder if he was a teammate of Mario Chalmers when Kansas won the National Championship in 2008 (he wasn't).

Kenny Boynton - Florida: We used to confuse Boynton with Erving Walker, who was a senior last year, similar type player. Probably leads to us thinking Boynton has been around for that much longer.

Second Team
Deniz Kilicli - West Virginia: The Turk. The Hook. The Beard. The no longer has the beard. Whatever you want to call him, he's been around way too long. Moutaineer fans are ready for him to be gone.

Mike Rosario - Florida: This one is a little tricky, considering Rosario started his career at Rutgers and then transferred to Florida. Rosario did match up against Johnny Flynn, who is now already (!) out of the league and playing in Australia. In fact, watch the video, maybe this is why Rosario left Rutgers

Derrick Nix - Michigan State: When you are a senior that is 6-7 and 290 lbs, its hard for people to miss you. Throw in the fact that you play for one of the nation's most recognizable programs, you are going to be seen a lot.

Rodney McGruder - Kansas State: One of Daily Onions favorite players, solely because of his last close to McGruber!

Mike Brusewitz - Wisconsin: Big, white dude with a buzz cut that can shoot from outside and plays hard for Wisconsin. Sounds familiar, right? Well Brusewitz also used to have some flowing orange locks before he went with the Badger buzz, making him standout during his first two years on campus

Early look for next year's squad- Aaron Craft, Ohio State; Will Spradling, Kansas State. Both are juniors are could be honorable mentions this year.

Who'd we miss?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mike Rice Farewell Tour

Tonight marks the start of Big East play for Syracuse, as they welcome Rutgers to the Carrier Dome. The game also marks Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice's return to the bench after serving a three-game suspension handed down by RU Athletic Director, Tim Pernetti back on December 13th. Rice was suspended without pay and fined $50,000 for foul language and inappropriate behavior, which included throwing basketballs at players' heads. Nice.

For those that have read Daily Onions over the last few years know we are not a huge fan of Rice or his sideline antics. In addition to observing him over the years, we also had the opportunity to work along side Rice at a few basketball camps several years ago. Rice comes off as a high energy, motivated and passionate guy - all things you would want as a coach. He also comes off as arrogant and cocky. Take the good, take the bad, I guess.

After stints as an assistant for St. Joe's and Pitt, Rice got his shot to lead a program at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh. In his three years there, he compiled a record of 73 wins and 31 losses. He also earned NCAA berths in his final two years, taking the two seed, Villanova to OT before losing in the opening round of the 2010 tournament. That impressive showing punched Rice's ticket to getting a shot at a BCS conference job.

His time at Rutgers has been highlighted by three victories over top-10 teams in the past two years (Villanova, Connecticut and Florida). While those wins impressive, Rice and the Scarlet Knights have mustered just 5 and 6 wins in the Big East conference during his first two seasons.

Will Mike Rice Change his Ways?
While this is the final year for the Big East as we know it, it also needs to be the final year for Mike Rice as Rutgers head coach. Whether it's getting tossed from a game in the first half for arguing with officials, throwing basketballs at players during practice or ripping into a 19-year old by cursing him out on national television during a game, Rice has shown behavior that has no place in coaching, no matter the level.

When I first read of the suspension, I commended Pernetti for taking that action. A three game suspension and $50,000 fine amounts to about a quarter of Rice's yearly salary, which shows Pernetti wanted to send a message. Others I spoke with thought Rice should have been fired immediately, because it's obvious that Rice's inappropriate behavior was an ongoing issue, not just an isolated event.

With the direction Rutgers University is heading - another solid football season that nearly ended with a BCS bowl berth and the upcoming move to the Big Ten Conference - they cannot afford to have a liability like Rice on the sideline. Yes, Rice was bringing in players and the past two seasons he was coaching one of the five youngest squads in the country.

But when you are trying to build a brand around a basketball team, you don't want the face of the program or the lasting impression of the program, a maniac coach on the sideline.

I'm not questioning whether or not Mike Rice cares about his players. I know he does. He wants them to win and wants them to be successful. That's what we want our coaches to do. However, there is a right way to do that and a wrong way to do that.

Rice says he's learned his lesson and I hope he has. I just don't know if you can flip a switch to turn on and off the passion, or at least channel that passion into a positive, acceptable behavior.

Tonight as Rice returns, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim looks to move into sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list. Ironically, if Boeheim can take care of the hot-headed Rice and Rutgers tonight, he'll move ahead of another coach that had a few flare ups on the sideline, Bobby Knight.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Early Season Onions

Tis the season for turkey, travel, Thanksgiving, the start of college basketball and ...... ONIONS! Yesterday we got our first taste of college basketball onions, when Butler's Rotnei Clark gave the Bulldogs the last second victory over Marquette at the Maui Invitational. See for yourself...

The one unfortunate thing about this game, is that is was played in the early session of the Maui Invitational, which meant that Bill Raftery was NOT on the call. We all know what would have happened if Raftery was on the airwaves. Let's flashback to Raftery in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, where we get 3 Onions calls in the final minutes of the Ohio State-Siena game, including a "Double-Order" to cap things off.

Raftery is back on the mic tonight calling the North Carolina-Butler game. Let's hope there are a few orders of Onions on the menu tonight.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fun Fact Friday: Brown and Out

Well, that didn't last too long. After just five games played in the 2012-13 NBA season, Mike Brown is out as the Lakers Head Coach. The new look Lakers, who added Steve Nash and Dwight (eisen)Howard to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to form the Big Aging Four, started the season 1-4.

Mike Brown: You're Fired.
Five games marked the fastest the Lakers have ever fired a coach, easily beating out the previous record of 12 games back in 1999, when they got rid of Frank Drebin Del Harris. Five games also is the fastest an NBA coach has been let go, the previous record of 9.

Still lots of information to come out on why the move was made, but here are some of the story lines on why this went down:

-Princeton offense: As Charles Barkley said on Inside the NBA last week on TNT, "I want my accountant to come from Princeton, not my NBA offense." He's got a point. While the Princeton offense can be successful with the right group of players and the right coach (not Mike Brown), it just wasn't working here. Not sure why Brown was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, when he had two of the best big men in the league, along with one of the all time greatest shooting guards, led by a two-time MVP at PG...none of whom have ever run the Princeton offense.

-Dwight Howard: True or False - Dwight Howard has been involved in the firing of two NBA coaches, on opposite coasts of the country, in a mere 6 months. True. With that said, we doubt Howard himself had THAT much to do with the firing.

-Kobe: Speaking of individuals that had to do with the firing. A lot of fingers are being pointed at Kobe. Well, if you saw the death stare he gave to Mike Brown at the end of Wednesday's loss to the Utah Jazz, you probably would too. We'll see what comes out in regards to how much say Kobe had in this decision. Kobe supposedly did sign off on Brown implementing the Princeton offense this summer, but I guess he's flip-flopping on that decision now.

-Weekend at Bernie's: Lakers assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will coach the team tonight against Golden State, and most likely Sunday's game vs. Sacramento. The long term replacement is yet to be determined but common names being heard include Phil Jackson (obvious 1st choice), Jerry Sloan (pick and roll w/ Steve Nash leading the way), Mike D'Antoni (Nash's coach in Phoenix, good relationship w/ Kobe from Olympics and Italian roots), Brian Shaw (former Lakers assistant under Phil Jackson, probably should have gotten the job when they hired Brown). Daily Onions pick would be D'Antoni - probably the most realistic and best move at this point.

-7 Games in Heaven: Here is the next seven games for the Lakers. Golden State, Sacto, San Antonio, Phoenix, Houston, New JERRRSEEEY Brooklyn, at Sacto. Six in a row at home, most thought Brown would get at least the weekend to clean things up. Why wait though? He's obviously not the right fit, so get someone new in who can take over the team when they have a handful of winnable games. Get them off to a hot start and go from there.