Friday, October 31, 2014

Orange Volleyball Looks to Regroup for Last Half of Conference

Story and photo by Jessica Eley
Syracuse, N.Y. -

The Orange jump up for a block
SU volleyball is no longer winless in the ACC but is still struggling. The team is hoping to improve in a couple of games this weekend

 The Orange fell to 8-13 after losing its eighth conference game to Georgia Tech on the road last Friday and is at the bottom of the ACC.

The team has only won one conference game this season. That was a 3-0 beating of Wake Forest at SU on Oct. 19.

Versus the Yellow Jackets, the Orange was up 2-0 in sets before falling behind 2-3 to lose match. Silvi Uattara had 28 kills on 65 swings and four blocks.

"We're trying to figure out who we can get more from, besides Silvi" head coach Leonid Yelin said.

Uattara has 298 kills on the season, 80 more than the next highest player on the team, and is averaging 3.77 kills per set.

Yelin said it's hard to build consistency with lineups that keep changing. The team has been plagued by injury.

Senior outside hitter, Nicolette Serrate, has been watching from the sidelines all season with a boot on her left foot. The 6'3 redshirt sophomore outside hitter, Valeriya Shaipova, who had been making strides to return to her 100 percent after tearing her ACL last year, hasn't played since Pitt when she exited the match early after her knee began to hurt.

Freshman middle blocker, Leah Levert, suffered a concussion in practice two weeks ago and was unable to play against Louisville and Pitt.

With the former junior outside hitter, Gosia Wlaszczuck's move to setter at the beginning of the season,  Yelin said the Orange lost a huge part of its ball control and front row hitting experience.

"I feel comfortable definitely. in the beginning I was shaking before every game and I had to remind myself that I am playing as setter and focus on it," Wlaszczuck said. "It's still lack of experience, but as of right now I feel more comfortable setting."

Yelin said with players having to move around so much this year, they are mentally in a hole.

Looking Ahead

Wlaszczuck said she is unsatisfied with the season, but hopes to change it around for the last half.

"I feel like we have a better team and we should be higher in the standings of the ACC."Wlaszczuck said. "It's just like we can't overcome ourselves. It's all mental."

The Orange has a chance to redeem itself. Out of the nine matches left, SU has played four of the teams.

Wlaszczuck said at Wednesday's practice, watched video of their first time playing Louisville two weeks ago.

"We're more prepared now, we know what to expect from them," Wlaszczuck said.

The Orange plays Louisville (13-8)  and Pittsburgh (18-3) on the road this weekend.

Orange MBB Players at ACC Media Day

Story and photo by Nicole Todd
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -
      Syracuse University's Rakeem Christmas and Trevor Cooney were happy to talk with reporters at ACC Media Day on October 29th, but not about what just about everyone wanted to ask most - the NCAA investigation of SU athletics.  Neither athlete would comment, except for Christmas saying, "I don't even want to know."

       The investigation story was expected to play out in Chicago Thursday and Friday with hearings that included Athletics Director Daryl Gross, Head Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim and Head Football Coach Scott Shafer.
          Both players talked energetically about other things...

The Shooter
          Trevor Cooney's success from three-point range will be a major factor for SU again this season and he doesn’t mind that.  “I like being known as the shooter,” Cooney said.  “If I shoot well, that opens the floor for everyone to do well also." 
In its first year in the ACC Cooney said the Orange proved that it belongs.  "We  bring a different type of basketball, which is good," he said. "I think we just add to what was already great." Compared to playing with the Big East Conference,    "The ACC has tougher venues," he said. 

The Big Man

           "It's an honor to be in the ACC, " Rakeem Christmas said when asked what it was like playing against Duke and other top teams.

          The 6'9" Christmas, as usual came across as relaxed and soft spoken but said that's not how he plans to play. This season he said that he wants to become more assertive to become a leader to be for the team. 

 "I want to become more vocal on the court," he said, adding that he knows he needs to work on his communication skills both on and off the court towards his team. The team is "always together, always a family," he said.


Orange rated Fifth

         Concluding Media Day in Charlotte, the ballots came out and Syracuse was voted number five in the preseason poll with Duke taking first place. North Carolina followed then Louisville and Virginia.  The poll was voted on from the media in attendance at the ACC Media Day.  Last year the Orange was voted number two.

          No Orange player was voted to the preseason All-ACC team. Marcus Paige of North Carolina was voted preseason player of the year.

          With major players gone this season like Tyler Ennis, C.J Fair and Michael Carter Williams the Orange are in need of the new freshman and returners to step up.  They won both exhibition games (Carelton and Adrian) in the previous two weeks.  

Home Season Opener 

          The Orange have never played against the Kennesaw State Owls before.  Kennesaw ended their season last year 6-25 and SU with 28-6.  
          The Orange take on Kennesaw State for their home season opener tonight on ESPN3 at 7 p.m.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Comeback Kid

Story and Photo by Danielle Kennedy




The stage at the McQuaid Invitational was too small to fit 24 sweaty high school boys.  Set up in the middle of the grass field at Genesee Valley Park, the eight boys from Liverpool stood together on the front of the small black platform to receive their award for second-place.  Once again, the boys had fallen behind rival Fayetteville-Manlius, this time by 22 points.  But as parents snapped photos from below the stage, the teams bright orange t-shirts weren’t the only things drawing attention.  It was Nick LeClair’s bright smile that managed to outshine even the square, shiny award plaque.


LeClair’s finishing time wasn’t as fast as he had hoped it would be, but being back in a race with his teammates was reason enough to celebrate.  LeClair had been battling a shin injury since the beginning of the season and was unable to run.  He didn’t have a stress fracture, but the pain forced him to cross train on the elliptical and aqua jog in the pool nonetheless.  As a senior, this wasn’t the way LeClair expected his final cross-country season to begin.  


From Left to Right: Connor Buck (Sr..) Ben Petrella (Jr.)
and Nick LeClair (Sr.)
“It probably wouldn’t have affected me as much if this happened to me a few years ago,” he said.  “It mostly affected me this much [now] because I’m a senior, and this is my last chance, and I know I can be better right now.”    

Since the beginning of September, LeClair watched his teammates run fast workouts and break course records.  He hated being unable to practice with them and had grown frustrated with sitting on the sidelines.


The Decision



The reason Nick LeClair is a runner is because of his teammate, Connor Buck.  At a field camp in sixth grade, Buck suggested that LeClair leave the soccer team to join the cross country team. LeClair was a midfielder who loved to run, but he was reluctant to quit. Little did he know that joining cross country wasn’t only about running.


“I just gave it a shot,” he said.  “The first day was hard and I was really out of shape, but then I just became friends with everyone on the team, and I just stuck with it.”



Sticking with it helped LeClair progress from being the 15th runner on the Liverpool Middle School team to the fourth.  In ninth grade, he joined the high school JV team.  At the end of the season though, he wasn’t promoted to varsity like some of his teammates.  Head coach Tracey Vannatta said this motivated him to earn a spot in the top-seven the following season. 


“Towards the end of his freshman year I saw a little glimpse,” Vannatta said. He said, ‘I want to be [this] runner,’ and the next year came around and he was that runner.  His work ethic is there and he’s got some natural ability, and on top of everything, more than anything, he wants the team to succeed.”


The Difference Maker


In 2012, LeClair helped the Warriors finish third at the Sectional meet.  One year later, the team finished second at sectionals and sixth at Nike Cross Country Regionals.  LeClair’s greatest contribution to the team came at the biggest meet of his career – Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon.  There, he was the team’s fifth scorer and helped them to a 20th overall finish out of 24 teams. 

His teammates said that he continues to make a significant impact on the team each day, even if they are in smaller ways.



“When he talks, even though it may not be the loudest and the most pumped up, he still makes sure that everyone gets pumped up,” said senior teammate Connor Buck.  “He’s always there for all of the guys, even the JV guys.”



Stevie Schulz is one of those JV runners.  To Schulz, LeClair is a captain worth emulating. 


“If he’s finished with a workout and you’re still going, he’s pushing at you like you’re in a race,” Schulz said.  [He’s] getting you to finish, and getting you to stick to it and finish the workout and do what you’re supposed to do.”



His work ethic doesn’t annoy or discourage others. Instead, it motivates them to mutually finish hard out of desire rather than need.



“He doesn’t make you feel like you have to do it, he just makes you really want to do it,” Schulz said.  “It doesn’t feel like it’s homework where it’s like ‘ugh, I have to go do this,’ it’s actually like, ‘yeah, I want to do this and I got to go do that.’ ”



Just Like Old Times



It’s been more than six months since the team’s 1200-meter track time trial, but that hasn’t stopped Nick LeClair from reminding his teammates of his performance.


“I beat everybody,” he said.  “I kicked down Dylan and I take great pride in that.  Whenever someone says something to me [if they beat me] I just say, ‘time trial.’”



Now that he’s returned to running, his teammates can breathe a sigh of relief.



“It’s good knowing we have our scorer back,” Buck said. 



At Genesee Valley Park, the look on LeClair’s face was enough of an indication that he’s happy to be back, too.  He was the team’s fifth scorer at McQuaid, helping Liverpool outscore third-place Conestoga by 24 points in the Varsity AAA race.   


Everybody knows that he’s there for the team,” Vannatta said.  “He’s the glue that holds them all together with that team bond.”



LeClair hopes this team bond will help the Warriors defeat Fayetteville-Manlius at the sectional meet in a few weeks.  And if it’s anything like last year, this may not be the last stage he kneels on this season.  After all, the one at Nike Cross Country Nationals comes with an even better reason to smile.

  



Monday, October 27, 2014

Lost the Game But Not Hope

Story and photo by Jiayang Zhang

Syracuse, N.Y.

The rain that had been falling on and off finally stopped at some point during the second half. But a clear Thursday night only got colder.

“Final score: Virginia Tech - Five, Syracuse - Nothing.”

People scattered in the bleachers folded up their blankets and started leaving. Big smiles stayed on the faces of people wearing hats and hoodies with two big letters “VT” - they came to the SU Soccer Stadium to support No. 14 Virginia Tech. The Hokies had wrapped up their night by scoring on a penalty kick in the last minute.

“We really needed this game tonight,” Ed Tiernan said. As the father of VT leading scorer Murielle Tiernan, he has been to every game of her daughter, even scrimmages. Murielle scored the first two goals for the Hokies tonight. “”We just came off a bad loss, and the girls were really upset... My daughter was in tears last week... I think they came out really ready to play... Syracuse picked the bad night to get attacked.”

On the north side, silence swallowed the bleachers. Supporters shared in a tough night for the Syracuse University women’s soccer team. But not everyone knew what this latest defeat meant to the team.

The Orange’s losing streak grew to four games and the scoreless drought has continued for 360 minutes. The last time the Orange allowed five goals without scoring any was five years ago at Connecticut in 2009. The last time SU had a bigger failure at home was the 8-0 loss against Notre Dame in 1997.

This team made history tonight, but not in a way its members want.

 

Aftermath

The only ones left on the field were SU head coach Phil Wheddon and several SU players who were requested for post-match interviews.

“We had four letdowns in the first half, four lapses of concentration inside the goal area,” Wheddon said. “This league is just so unforgiving. You can’t give up those types of chances.”

While the score did not reflect it, he Orange had come out much more aggressive for this game. It had five shots in the first 25 minutes, almost as many as the total number (six) of shots in the last three games. But none of them were dangerous enough to escape the goalkeeper. The closest chance was Stephanie Skilton’s shot in the 14th minutes, which hit the left post.

The Hokies only had two more shots than the Orange in the first half, but they turned four of them into goals. Virginia Tech’s leading scorer Murielle Tiernan scored twice in five minutes.  Candace Cephers and Shannon Mayrose contributed the other two goals in the first half.

Going into the second half, Wheddon told the players to ignore the score and play out with pride. He changed the formation from 4-3-3 to 3-4-3 to add more pressure on the offensive side. 

Aside from the penalty kick near the end, the Hokies did not score in the second half. They only took three shots.

“This group fought hard if you look into the second half,” Wheddon said. “I just asked them to reproduce our second half for 90 minutes on Sunday and 90 minutes against North Carolina. Because if we play like that all year round, results would be different.”

This result, however, was not acceptable to the players.

“As a forward, I feel disappointed because I let my team down by not scoring,” Skilton said. “...Having a lot of new freshmen coming in has been difficult (for us) to adjust as a team...We played really well tonight, the score just does not fit our performance.”

Goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan stayed until the end, sitting beside the entrance of the field. Her head lowered, eyes fixed on the ground. The black brace still wrapped around her right knee. The doctor said she should keep wearing it to make sure her ACL is fully recovered from the injury which tied her to the bench for nearly half a season.

When reporters came to Brosnan, she raised her head and stood up. Her lips were purple, her voice was trembling, her eyes watered with tears. But she held them back.

“It’s kind of hard letting them any goals,” Brosnan said. “… Besides those few minutes, I thought that was one of our best performances this season. We really played as a team. So it’s kind of hard to see us giving up so many goals.”

“Going into the half, we had our heads down,” Brosnan said. “But we did a quick turnaround to get our heads up, just to get out there and do the best we can to come back.. I think we did that pretty well even though we didn’t get a goal. But we did the best we can.”

Wheddon waited until Brosnan finished the interview, then talked to her and her mother, who drove four hours from New Jersey to see her daughter’s game. It was a private conversation. But Wheddon did say something more than once during his post-game interview.

“I’m very proud of them.”

 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

No. 10 Syracuse Celebrates Seniors with 4-0 Win Against Bucknell

Story and Photos By Robin Deehan

SYRACUSE N.Y. - Despite the rain, the No. 10 Syracuse field hockey team shut out Bucknell at its last regular season home game Sunday at Coyne Field.

SU also honored Jordan Page, Kati Nearhouse and Lauren Brooks in a pre-game ceremony as part of Senior Day.

“That trust, that belief, and that faith
, and that ‘I’ll do whatever I can for my team’ is what I love about the three of them," head coach Ange Bradley said.  "They’re really, really special people,”

After the pre-game ceremony, the seniors continued the celebration on to the field when Brooks and Page connected to get SU on the board eight minutes into the game.

Page sent a ball from the top of the circle to Brooks, who lifted it past the goalie's left shoulder and into the top left corner of the cage.

(left to right) Seniors Kati Nearhouse, Lauren Brooks &
Jordan Page
“It kind of set the pace for the game, so it was good to get one early, we knew we had it and we needed to keep working for the rest of the 70 minutes,” Brooks said.

The goal was Brooks 8th of the season and potentially the last goal she will score on Coyne Field.

“Coyne brings back so many memories,” Brooks said.  “I have, I think two losses on Coyne field, so it’s crazy how this is my last game, I can’t believe it.”

The next two SU goals came from freshman Lies Lagerweij, who made her debut as center back this weekend after being out with a knee injury the last eight weeks.

Both of Lagerweij’s goals came off penalty corners that she ripped from the top of the circle into the back of the cage.

“I haven’t been able to play for eight weeks, so to score again was really good, because of course, that’s what I miss the most about field hockey,” Lagerweij said.

Since Lagerweij has been back on the field, the SU defense has given up no corners in back-to-back games.

“That’s not really about me, I think that’s more the whole defensive structure,” Lagerweij said modestly.

The final goal of the game came in the 48th minute when Emma Russell was able to slip one past the goalie during a scrum in front of the cage.

SU dominated possession for the entire game giving up only two shots, both in the first half.

The Orange women improved to 12-4 on the season, while the Bucknell Bison dropped to 10-5.


SU will finish up regular season play on November 1st when it travels to Amherst to take on UMass at 1 p.m.

Syracuse Orange Apologetic After Near Upset in Death Valley

Story and Photo by Emily Dick.

CLEMSON, S.C.— No one expected Syracuse to handle the pressure of a big-time road game, especially not on the team’s first trip to Death Valley against the No. 21 Clemson Tigers.

Surrounded by fireworks, balloons and 80,031 screaming Tigers fans, the Orange  came into an electric Memorial Field. It was the largest crowd to witness a Syracuse football game since 2009, when the Orange played at Penn State (106,387).

So why did Syracuse Head Coach Scott Shafer apologize to fans after a hard-fought 16-6 loss to the Tigers?

“I apologize to the Syracuse faithful because we’re going to get this thing right and we’re going to beat these teams eventually,” Shafer said. “We’re just a little bit away right now, but we’re going to get this thing right.”


Strong Start

The Orange  (3-5, 1-3 ACC) and the Tigers (6-2, 5-1 ACC) started the game trading drives back and forth three times when suddenly, Syracuse started making plays.

“There were times I couldn’t hear myself think because it was that loud in there,” said freshman quarterback AJ Long, who was making his second career start for the Orange.

On Clemson’s first play of its third drive, quarterback Cole Stoudt’s pass was intercepted by cornerback Brandon Reddish. For a moment, Death Valley went silent.

Long then led the Orange down the field with three consecutive completions to Ervin Phillips, Jarrod West, and Ashton Broyld for eight, eight, and 23 yards respectively.

The Orange chipped away at the fifth-ranked Clemson defense, in what fans call the “No Fly Zone.”

Ten plays later, it was up to freshman kicker Cole Murphy. He nailed a 43-yard field goal, and just like that, the Orange was leading Clemson 3-0.

The Tigers answered later in the second quarter, with a 12-play drive, but were stopped short by the Syracuse defense and forced to kick a 38-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.

Clemson had the ball with 1:22 left in the half when Stoudt fumbled in Tiger territory. Syracuse’s Dyshawn Davis recovered and the Orange later sent out Murphy, who then made a career long 50-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

The Syracuse Orange was leading the Clemson Tigers, in Death Valley, 6-3 at halftime.


“I can’t look them in the eyes”

That 6-3 halftime Orange lead slipped away in the second half as the offense was unable to put any more points on the board for Syracuse.

"I can't look them in the eyes," Long said of his defense. "Your job is to get points on the board, and knowing that you didn't get your job done, and seeing how they played, you just — you have no words. You can't look them in the eye and say, 'I'm sorry,' because at the end of the day you have one job. And if you don't get that done, I mean, what are you really doing?"

Clemson fought back with two field goals and an early fourth quarter touchdown, the only one of the game, to lead the Orange 16-6.

With just over 10 minutes left in the game, Syracuse had a chance to make it a one-possession game with a 42-yard field goal attempt, but Murphy missed it, wide right.

The score never changed and the game ended after a 15-play, eight minute Clemson drive down the field to the Syracuse eight-yard line. The Tigers had third down with one yard to go and 30 seconds on the clock, and took a knee.

“As long as we have one more point than the opponent, that’s all that matters. We got it done,” Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney said after the game.


Syracuse Defense Makes Statement

A loss is a loss, but the Syracuse defense had an impressive outing with 80 team tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions.

“I was proud of the way our defense played,” Shafer said. “When we needed a stop, we stopped them in some crucial situations and kept giving ourselves a chance to get the win.”

Senior linebacker, Cameron Lynch led the Orange with 10 tackles, two for a loss, but he doesn’t put sole blame on the offense.

“We let up a touchdown. We could’ve kept them to fewer points. It’s hard to look my own defense in the eye,” Lynch said.


Coming Up…

We're going mano-a-mano with these teams that have a little bit more talent than us right now," Shafer said. “But we’re going to get there. We’re going to continue to get better, but I love our kids and the way they fight.”


The Syracuse Orange takes on North Carolina State (4-4, 0-4 ACC) in the Dome Saturday, November 1.

Clarkson Beats Scrappy Syracuse to Earn Weekend Sweep

Story and Photo by Cody Love

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-  The defending National Champions proved to be a little too much for the Orange to handle.

After losing 9-0 to tenth-ranked Clarkson in Potsdam Friday night, Syracuse gave the Golden Knights a run for their money in the rematch Saturday afternoon, but ultimately fell short by a score of 4-1.

The game was close most of the way with Clarkson only pulling away in the last six minutes.

Syracuse played aggressively, but Clarkson's stout defensive play kept the Orange from getting many close-range scoring opportunities.

"I give Clarkson a ton of credit," Syracuse Head Coach Paul Flanagan said after the game. "That's a classic road game. They kept it to the perimeter, they did what they had to do, and then they had the players in the offensive zone."

The first period saw very little offense, with the first goal coming with less than two minutes remaining.  Clarkson center Genevieve Bannon passed the puck to a wide open Savannah Harmon, who lifted it top shelf.

About five minutes into the second period, Syracuse was able to set up in the Clarkson zone and bring pressure.  Larissa Martyniuk scored her first goal of the season to tie the game, beating goalie Shea Tiley.

About five minutes later, Clarkson had a power play chance.  After a big initial save by Orange goaltender Jenn Gilligan, a goalmouth scramble ensued.  Gilligan made several more saves but could not cover the puck, and Olivia Howe slipped it past her to give Clarkson the 2-1 lead.

Syracuse continued its aggressive play through the second and third, but was unable to come up with another goal.  Cayley Mercer added two for Clarkson late, the last of which came on a breakaway.

Despite the loss, Syracuse players were proud of their ability to keep up with the defending champs.

"People shouldn't be underestimating us," Gilligan said   "I think we competed with them, and we skated with them, and we got a lot of chances."

Clarkson's four-point weekend is a valuable turnaround after dropping two at home against Boston University last weekend.  The Golden Knights begin ECAC Hockey League play Tuesday night with a home game against St. Lawrence.

Syracuse is also set to begin league play in the CHA.  It will host Penn State on Friday and Saturday next weekend.

No. 10 Syracuse Upsets No. 6 Duke in Overtime Thriller

Story and Photo By Robin Deehan

Syracuse, N.Y. -

The No. 10 Syracuse Field Hockey team upset ACC rival No. 6 Duke Saturday at Coyne stadium in an overtime thriller.

“It’s just awesome, I’m really happy for our kids,” head coach Ange Bradley said. “We’ve really had a lot of adjustments in positions and injuries and they found a way, and that’s the sign of a good team.”

Emma Russell scored the game winning goal, off her own rebound, just 64 seconds into the extra time to give the Orange its second ACC win of the season.

“During the whole game we saw that their goalie comes out a lot,” Russell said. “Kati [Nearhouse] got a nice touch on the ball and I hit it the first time, and she came out again, and then she just happened to hit it back into my backspace, and I just managed to get the second shot off.”

This was Russell’s third game-winning overtime goal this season, and her heroics helped the Orange improve to 11-4, 2-4 ACC on the season, while the Blue Devils dropped to 11-5, 2-4 ACC.
 
The Orange got off to a shaky start when Duke’s Ashley Kristen scored just 35 seconds into the game on the Blue Devils'  first drive down the field.

But SU was able to maintain its composure, dominating possession of the ball and outshooting Duke 11-2 in the first half.

“It’s always frustrating to get scored on first,” freshman Laura Hurff said.  “But we just came out stronger than ever after that, because we knew we just had to pick up the tempo and then we kept the speed of the game the entire game.”

SU paid for that hiccup, trailing 1-0 for 55 minutes of play until Hurff dribbled the ball down the left side and slipped it past the goalie's right pad to even the score at one.

The equalizer was Hurff’s fifth goal of the season, and put to bed a little known superstition about the presence of Linda Hurff, Laura’s mother.

Laura Hurff and her mother Linda embracing
after SU's 2-1 upset over Duke
“I’m just so proud of her I don’t even know what to say,” Linda Hurff said.  “I cried, and the joke was, because the other goals she scored I wasn’t here, because I was watching my other daughter play the tuba in the marching band, I was just hoping so much she would score one here so that I would be able to come to these games.”

Laura echoed her mother’s sentiments.

“This was the first game that my mom was at that I scored, so it was incredible to see her in the stands and see her actually watch me score a goal."

16 minutes after Hurff sent the game into overtime, Russell sent it into the record books to give the Orange the victory.

The Orange outshot the Blue Devils 22 to 4 and held the
No. 6 team in the country to zero corners on the day.

Following the 2-1 victory, SU was seeded number six in the 2014 ACC Field Hockey Championship. 

SU will take on third-seeded Boston College on Thursday, November 6th at 4pm in Durham, N.C.
SU lost to BC 3-2 in overtime back in September.


But before SU heads to Durham for the ACC Tournament, the team will celebrate its seniors Kati Nearhouse, Lauren Brooks and Jordan Page Sunday at Senior Day when SU faces Bucknell at 2 p.m. in their last home game.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Star Spangled entrances highlight "Orange Madness" Media Day

Story and photos by Alan Key

Editor's note: our reporter covered SU Basketball Media Day and Orange Madness on Friday, October 17.  Here's a look back at some of the happenings.


Syracuse N.Y-  Syracuse basketball season is still a few weeks away, but the "Madness' began this past weekend. Friday afternoon the Orange men's and women's hoops teams held press conferences followed by the main event at the Carrier Dome - Orange Madness.

Men begin their quest for March Madness with an exhibition game November 2nd with the regular season opener on November 14th in the 2k classic preliminary round at the Carrier Dome.

The women will have to wait until November 16th.

"Q" cites depth

Women's head coach Quentin Hillsman stood poised behind the podium at the 'Melo center as he laid out plans for a successful season with a team that includes nine returning letter-winners.

Coach Hillsman at Women' Media Day
 "We are a very deep basketball team," Hillsman said. "We are returning a lot of key players, but most of all our new players have bought into our system and are playing at a really high level going into the season."

Referencing last year when the Orange went 23-10 and won its first NCAA tournament game, "Q" said he hopes to build on the ideology that three possessions are one of the keys to his team succeeding this season.

After beating Chattanooga, the Orange lost to Kentucky in the second round of the women's tournament, 64-59.

Syracuse will enter the season ranked 24th in the country, which Hillsman boasted is a testament to the type of program being built at Syracuse.
 

Coach Boeheim at Men's Media Day


Boeheim points to challenges

Men's Head Coach Jim Boeheim  addressd some of the challenges that face his hoops program, after a season in which the Orange went 28-6 but lost to Dayton in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Seniors C.J. Fair and Baye Moussa Keita finished their eligibility and underclassmen Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant declared for the NBA draft.

"Losing our three biggest scorers two seasons in a row now and we lost our best defensive player coming off the bench in Baye in a two year period that's a big loss," Boeheim said.

In addition to more offense, the hall of fame coach is looking for more leadership from 6'9" senior forward Rakeem Christmas.

"I think he's got to the point that he's ready to compete at a very high level," Boeheim said.

With point guard Tyler Ennis' departure to the NBA the Orange will turn to another highly touted freshman Kaleb Joseph to run an up tempo offense.

Boeheim declined to compare the two point guards playing styles, but said he is very confident in Joseph's abilities.

Redshirt junior Trevor Cooney will play with his third point guard in the last three years, but said he considers himself fortunate having another standout in Joseph.

"Playing with him so far has been great," Cooney said. "All you can ask for is someone who works hard."

Joseph knows there are challenges he must face in the upcoming season.

"One of the biggest adjustments for me is not being able to get to the rim when I want like in high school I could get to the rim and dunk and here that's not what's really asked of me," Joseph said.


Ohhh, the Madness!

More than 3,000 rowdy Orange nation faithful filed into the Carrier Dome a couple of hours later to get a glimpse of this year's teams.

Each coach rode into the main event in his own style.

"Q"-mobile

Coach "Q" took a more laid back Sunday afternoon cruise as his entrance to "Madness." The sounds of Motown with a twist of hip hop played over the public address system while a Cadillac convertible carrying Hillsman emerged from the foggy tunnel.

 The stage was now set for the arrival of his counterpart.


"General" Boeheim

Wearing a sheepish grin and a combat helmet, Boeheim entered with a flamboyance rivaled only by Sargent Slaughter of the WWE . Riding atop a Humvee transport and surrounded by military servicemen and women from Fort Drum, he made a star-spangled entrance.

Fans stood and honored the soldiers as Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," echoed throughout the dome. Boeheim took a moment to show off his gold medal from the FIBA world games this summer.

Competition

Fans were treated to a three point competition, a dunk contest, men's and women's scrimmages.

Dunk Champ B.J Johnson
Trevor Cooney edged out 5-11 junior forward Brianna Butler by a slim margin in a three point shoot-out.

6'7" Sophomore Forward  B.J. Johnson and 6'7" Michael Gbinije electrified the crowd with jaw-dropping dunks.

After three rounds the crowd scored Johnson the winner.



Turning back the clock


"Pearl" Washington
The highlight of the night was a Syracuse Legends exhibition game that included Orange greats such as Dwayne "Pearl" Washington, whose many SU highlights include a halfcourt shot to beat Boston College in 1984.

Billy Owens
 Second round draft pick of the Phoenix Suns Rafael Addison, Big East tournament hero Eric Devendorf and John Wallace showed fans they could still score as they combined for 21 points.


John Wallace


  Billy Owens and Jim Lee were honorary coaches.

 The night finished up with fans able to get up close and take "selfies" with their favorite player past or present.




Opening games set

The men will play a couple of exhibition games against Carlton and Adrian in the Dome before starting the regular season in the 2K classic against Kenesaw State on November 14.

The women open at home against Fordham November 16.