UM heads to upstate NY (Jan. 4, 2014 | 2 p.m. Syracuse, N.Y. | Carrier DomeTV: ACC Network) to take on the #2 Orange.
Here is our full Q&A with Sean Keeley of "Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician." We did not ask about the site name, we should have!
SOTU: The Orange have some nice wins over Baylor, Villanova, and Indiana and are ranked #2 in the country. How good is this team? Were you expecting a big time March run from the onset, or has this team surprised you with its' performance?
Sean: Really good. Like, even better than we thought. Syracuse fans are used to diminishing returns when it comes to great teams. A great one is usually followed by a not-so-great one. But we're in the midst of arguably the best stretch of recruiting and on-court results in Boeheim's career, so we're getting used to this whole idea that this year's team could be even better than last year's.I think the expectation was that SU would be a top fifteen team again, but a shaky backcourt would hold us back. Instead, Tyler Ennis is having an even better season than Michael Carter-Williams did last year and Trevor Cooney has improved tenfold. Sky's the limit now.
SOTU: How have Cuse fans enjoyed the ACC experience thus far (of course until you get the treatment in Cameron you have not yet been fully initiated)?
Sean: I'd say it's been extremely enjoyable, except for the Clemson, FSU and Georgia Tech losses. For starters, we're elated to be in the ACC and not in what's left of the old Big East. But then you factor in the fun we've had with the fan bases so far (except for Clemson's), and the way Syracuse's athletic programs have responded by being competitive, and it's been a fun year so far.
SOTU: Scout the Orange for us. We all know CJ Fair is awesome, and Trevor Cooney can shoot. How good has freshman PG Tyler Ennis been? Any unsung heroes? What is a potential weakness for this squad?
Sean: For how good Ennis has been, I'll direct you to Luke Winn's statistical breakdown here. MCW was a lottery pick last year, and Ennis is playing even better than he did. He plays way above his true freshman standing and is the kind of point guard that can score zero points but have a profound affect on the game.C.J. Fair is the hero but Jerami Grant isn't that far behind him. Usually our sixth-man in Boeheim's patented "sixth starter" role, he'll get the start due to DaJuan Coleman's injury. Grant is tracking like a first-round draft pick and is almost as athletic and effective as Fair.Our big weakness was already the big men before Coleman got hurt. But without him, we're even more exposed. Rakeem Christmas is still trying to live up to the hype. Baye Keita is a great energy guy but he's not a difference-maker. A team that can exploit the Orange in the paint is a team that can do a lot of damage.
SOTU: What is your all time favorite Orange Hoops moment? (Personally I loved when the 1996 John Wallace led team that made the final four used to imitate obscure rap group Blahzay Blahzay and sing "When the Cuse is in the House OMG OMG, When the Cuse is in the House OMG DANGER!!)
Sean: It's generic but winning the 2003 National Title was obviously a highlight. I was in a sports bar in Manhattan Beach, CA with a dozen or so Syracuse fans I'd met at the beginning of the tournament (and never saw again afterward), surrounded by what seemed like 30-40 Kansas fans. When Hakim Warrick made The Block and then the final shot went awry, we went absolutely nuts and continued to do so late in the evening and early morning.
Original Version for these interested "Danger, Blahzay Blahzay":
SOTU: If you pick any starting 5 of all time Cuse Cagers, who are you going with?
Sean: I assume we're sticking to positions as well, so I'll go with…1: Sherman Douglas (Syracuse PG by which all others are graded against)2: Gerry McNamara (When asked what SU player he would give the ball to for a game-winner, GMac was Boeheim's pick)3: Dave Bing (Still considered the best player to ever put on the orange uniform)4: John Wallace (3rd all-time in scoring and rebounds)5: Derrick Coleman (2nd all-time in scoring, 1st in rebounds)
SOTU: How do you see this game playing out? Any Canes players, or match-ups that concern you?
Sean: I have to admit I haven't watched too much (read: any) Miami games this season, but I know that a hot three-point hand and a strong big man are the best ways to beat the Orange. Doesn't look like the Canes have too big a three-point threat, though it's often the "random white guy off the bench who inexplicably hits eight three's out of nowhere" that does the damage. Your rebounding numbers concern me. It looks like Miami attacks the boards well, and that's the kind of thing that could be a problem for SU.I'm still going to go with an Orange victory but this could be a tougher game than some people expect. The Orange can win ugly but ugly games also throw them for a loop. If Miami gets ugly, the game might as well.
Thanks again to Sean Keeley with Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician for taking the time to answer these questions.
Saturday should be a real measuring stick for UM and a fun one for the fans!