Orange guard Carter-Williams soars through the lane as he shoots during action in their NCAA men's college basketball game against Pittsburgh Panthers in New York

Syracuse appears to have cured their offensive woes

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And we all thought that Syracuse was done.


For the second straight day, the Orange got into a rhythm offensively, opening up a 40-27 lead at the half and hanging on down the stretch to win, 62-59, as Pitt made their run. It sets up a dream-come-true semifinal, where the Orange will be taking on Georgetown in the final Big East tournament for the right play for the title.

It’s almost too perfect, but that’s another post for another day.

What’s more important, for now, is that Syracuse finally looks like the team that climbed their way into the top five earlier this season. The team that went into Louisville and knocked off the Cardinals back in January. The team that, before the meltdown over the last month and a half, were thought to be a real national title contender.

Whether or not that last statement is actually true remains to be seen, but what we’ve seen over the last two days is that Syracuse has managed to fight their way through their recent offensive struggles. James Southerland has now scored 20 points in each of the first two games, hitting 66.7% from the floor and an incredible 80% (12-15) from three. The Orange committed just 17 turnovers through 80 minutes and, as a team, Syracuse is shooting 61.8% (21-34) from three through the two games.

Their problems aren’t completely solved, however.

Michael Carter-Williams still committed six turnovers against Pitt. The Orange still managed just 22 points in the second half and nearly blew their big lead on Thursday night. Seton Hall jumped out to a 28-19 lead on Wednesday night before Syracuse finally figured things out.

But those things happen when teams are playing with their season on the line. That’s basketball in March. And while the Orange were, at one point, thought to be one of the best teams in the country, they were never once considered unbeatable. No one is, especially this season.

The important takeaway is that Syracuse made enough plays to win. That hasn’t been the case in a long time.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two¬†appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?