Sunday, March 29, 2015

Michigan State Downs Louisville To Earn Trip to the Final Four

Story & Photo by Robin Deehan

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – In an Elite-8 matchup that saw a clash of coaching titans, gritty play and eleven lead changes, it all came down to an extra five minutes.

The Michigan State Spartans punched their ticket to their first Final Four since 2010 in an overtime thriller Sunday afternoon at the Carrier Dome.

“It was a dog-eat-dog day, boy, and I think both teams spent themselves,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said.  “Just can't believe where we're going. I'm going to feel that way until the plane lands, and then it will be fun to go to work and see if we can keep this magical journey going.”

Second Half Struggles

After an evenly matched first 15 minutes of play, Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear nailed a three-pointer at 4:14 to ignite a Cardinal run that sent them into the locker room with an eight point lead. 

But as second half play started the Cardinals half court offense struggled, shooting just 20-percent from the field and 25-percent from beyond the arc allowing the Spartans the opportunity to chip away.

“We did a heck of a job after a sluggish first half where I thought Louisville played very well,” Izzo said. “We just didn't defend as well in that first half. They really got back to who we are. Holding a team like that to 5-of-25 from the field in the second half is remarkable.”

With 9:00 left in regulation, a Matt Costello layup allowed Michigan State to tie it at 51 and back-to-back triples by Bryn Forbes and Travis Trice gave the Spartans a six-point lead. 

But Louisville battled back and came within one when Blackshear drained a three with 1:48 left to play in regulation.

After a Spartan miss in their offensive end, Forbes fouled Blackshear and sent him to the line for two.

Blackshear sank both giving the Cardinals the 64-63 advantage with 1:14 left on the clock.

But 34 seconds later Marvin Clark Jr. scored off a Denzel Valentine assist giving the Spartans the lead back.

On the next play, Clark Jr. was fouled while grabbing a rebound by Mangok Mathiang.

Clark Jr. missed both free throw attempts and Louisville got the ball back still down by one with 21 seconds left on the clock.

Rozier took the final shot for the Cardinals but missed, and as Mathiang went up for the rebound Clark Jr. was called for a foul and Mathiang was sent to the free throw line with five seconds left.

Mathiang's first free throw took a friendly bounce and went in to tie the game at 65 but he missed the second.

Branden Dawson grabbed the rebound and threw it to Trice but Trice’s half court desperation shot was off the mark as time expired and the game headed into overtime.

The Extra Five

The Spartans jumped out to an early lead in the extra time thanks to Forbes, who nailed a big three and two free throws to give Michigan State a 70-66 lead.

Rozier and Blackshear scored bringing the Cardinals to within two with 1:04 left to play.

But an incredible rebound put-back by Dawson off a missed Forbes three gave the Spartans a four-point advantage with the clock showing 28 seconds.

“I was kind of shocked, they left him [Forbes] wide open I saw him in the corner, and I threw it to him,” Dawson said. “The shot looked good. When it came off, just being in the right place at the right time. The ball came to me, and I went up.”

And the final nail in the Louisville coffin came when Quentin Snider turned the ball over forcing the Cardinals to foul Trice.

Trice sank both free throws giving the Spartans the 76-70 advantage with 10 seconds left on the clock. That held as time expired.

“We've got to give them credit,” Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said.  “We almost came back and won the game. We're a free throw away from winning the game, which would have been amazing. We're real proud of our guys.”


Trice finished with 17 points and five assists while Valentine netted 15 and grabbed seven rebounds for the Spartans.

Forbes finished with 14 points including the clutch five in overtime.

Blackshear dropped 28 for the Cardinals and Montrezl Harrell finished with 14, 12 in the first half alone.

Up Next for the Spartans

Michigan State will meet South Region winner Duke April 4 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. 

The winner will face the winner of the Kentucky/Wisconsin matchup in the National Championship game on April 6.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Strong Second Half Powers Michigan State to 62-58 Win Over Oklahoma

By Julia Morris

Syracuse, N.Y. -- Michigan State shot 63 percent from the free-throw line during the regular season, the worst percentage of any team in the Big 10 Conference. But with a little more than a minute left in the Spartans’ Sweet 16 matchup against Oklahoma, free throws were not an problem.  The Sooners fouled Michigan State down the stretch, daring the Spartans to make their foul shots - and that is exactly what they did. Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine were a perfect 6-for-6 from the line, which helped Michigan State keep its lead and seal a 62-58 victory over the Sooners.

“Me and Travis realize we’re the free-throw shooters, and we feel the most confident at the line,” Valentine said.  “The team’s going by us.  So if we’re missing free throws, the rest of the guys are going to miss free throws.  We’re confident enough, when we work hard enough on the free throws, to step to the line and knock them down.”

Knocking down those free throws ensured Michigan State would advance to the Elite 8 to face Louisville on Sunday.

Oklahoma in Control Early

Oklahoma scored the first points of the game on a layup by Jordan Woodard and never looked back, staying ahead for the entire first half.  The Sooners were led by Buddy Hield, the Big 12 player of the Year, who had 11 points at the break and finished with a team high 21 on the night. Woodard also had a good first half, finishing with nine points.  He grabbed a defensive rebound and then hit a jumper with 9:47 to play in the first to put Oklahoma up 20-13. 

“I thought Lon’s (Coach Lon Kruger) team played such a good first half, or good first ten minutes,” Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo said.  “They really came at us…they made some good shots.”

And While Woodard and Hield got off to good starts, the Sooners defense as a whole was also impressive - holding Michigan State to 31 percent shooting in the first half.

“I think they did a good job of kind of taking away their first look,” Oklahoma Coach Lon Kruger said.  “I thought we broke up their rhythm a little bit in the first half.”

Michigan State did find some rhythm as time was winding down in the first.  In the final three minutes of the half, the Spartans cut the Sooners’ ten point lead down to four thanks to two big three pointers by Valentine and Bryn Forbes.  Oklahoma led 31-27 at the half.

Michigan State Turns It Around in the Second

Michigan State came out much stronger in the second half, shooting 48 percent and limiting Oklahoma to 30 percent from the field.  

“They definitely stepped it up a lot,” Hield said.  “They took away our flare…they got tough stops when they needed to…they just did a better overall job than us.”

Brandon Dawson helped take away the Sooners' flare by giving Michigan State momentum midway through the second half.  He hit two go ahead baskets in two minutes.  His second one put Michigan State up 46-45 with 7:28 to play.

"Those two shots that I made, they were big," Dawson said.  "When I got the ball, Denzel made a great entry pass.  I looked, and I knew - I saw that the double-team didn't come...So I made my move and made a good shot."

Along with setting up Dawson for a big play, Valentine increased his offensive production in the second half as well, scoring 13 of his 18 points after the break.

“The first half, I felt like it was my first time playing basketball,” Valentine said.  “But I just kind of snapped out of it, and I was like I’m in the Sweet 16 and we’ve got a chance to go to the Final Four.”

With 6:21 left in the game, he hit a three pointer that gave Michigan State a 51-47 lead and sent many of the Spartans’ fans in attendance at the Carrier Dome to their feet. 
Shortly after, Trice, who finished the game with a team-high 24 points, followed with a big three of his own that gave the Spartans a 54-49 advantage. 

The Sooners kept battling and the game was close in the final minutes.  Tashawn Thomas, who finished the game with 16 points for the Sooners, made two free throws to cut the lead back to three with a little less than two minutes to play.  The Sooners then tried to catch the Spartans by fouling them down the stretch, but Trice and Valentine did not fold under pressure. 

“I think they’re getting a little confidence,” Izzo said.  “I think maybe we’re doing a better job of keeping it in the right players’ hands.  And our right players are making it.”

Izzo will see if that confidence can stay with his team on Sunday, when he takes his ninth different team to the Elite 8 to face the Louisville Cardinals and Coach Rick Pitino, someone who is also very familiar with tournament success.  The game tips off at the Carrier Dome at 2:20 p.m.

Gill’s Spark Lifts Louisville Over NC State, 75-65

By Julia Morris

Syracuse, N.Y. -- Anton Gill averaged two points and nine minutes a game for the Louisville Cardinals in the regular season.  In NCAA Tournament play, the sophomore rode the bench for his team’s second round game against UC Irvine and played only two minutes against Northern Iowa.  But in Louisville’s Sweet Sixteen matchup against NC State, Gill stepped up big for the Cardinals down the stretch- recording seven points in a span of just over two minutes in the second half to lift his team to a 75-65 victory and send them to the Elite 8.

“I just saw I had an opportunity,” Gill said.  “We had worked hard all season and I didn’t want to go home.”

Playing against his hometown team, it was only fitting that the North Carolina native was the one to make sure his team didn’t go home Friday night at the Carrier Dome. With 5:55 left in the game, Gill hit a jumper that gave Louisville a one-point lead over the Wolfpack, 55-54.  About a minute later, he hit a clutch three that increased the Cardinal lead to 58-54.  And then with 3:37 left to play, Gill sank another shot to make the score 62-57. 

“He went in and basically won the game for us,” Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino said.

NC State Closes Out First Half Strong to Take Lead into the Break

NC State guard Trevor Lacey hit a jumper from the foul line to open up scoring in the first half – and he continued to have the hot hand for the Wolfpack early on.  Lacey had seven of NC State’s first ten points, including a deep three that put the Wolfpack up 5-2 with 16:55 to play.  Overall, he was 2-of-3 from three-point range in the first and finished the half leading all scorers with 12 points. But the rest of his team struggled.  NC State shot 35 percent from the field in the first. 

“They zoned us the whole time so it’s hard with all the zone especially with their athleticism,” Abdul-Malik Abu said.  “We feel like if they played man there would have been a different outcome.  It slowed us down a lot and we had to focus on outside shots.”

The Cardinals, on the other hand, shot 50 percent from the field – a great improvement from their 43 percent average during the regular season. The Cardinals' strong first half effort was due in part to point guard Quentin Snider, who has stepped up big since Chris Jones was kicked off the team last month. 

Snider had seven first half points, including a jump shot that put the Cardinals up 22-17 with 7:35 to play.  One of Louisville's leading scorers during the regular season, Montrezl Harrell, also had a good first half finishing 4-of-6 from the field.  He had nine points at the break and finished the game with a team-high 24 points. 

“I can’t say enough about him because he’s the toughest guy I’ve every coached and he never lets me down,” Pitino said.

While Louisville held a lead for much of the first half, the Wolfpack hit two quick threes in the final minute to take a 33-31 lead heading in to the break.   

Gill Comes Up Big in the Second Half

NC State quickly built on its halftime lead at the start of the second half.  The Wolfpack’s leading scorer in the tournament coming into the game, Anthony “Cat Barber,” was 0-for-7 from the field and 0-for-3 from three-point range in the first half but he made two quick threes within the first two minutes of the second to put NC State up 39-31 with 18:38 to play.

The Cardinals started to cut back into the Wolfpack lead though and took a five- point advantage with 9:37 to play when Terry Rozier, who finished the game with 17 points and 14 rebounds, hit a basket to put Louisville up 53-48. 

“We just wanted to go out and attack,” Rozier said.  “Our offense was just thinking about passing the ball and getting into the lane and we did that.”

Even though the Cardinals’ offense started to click, NC State would not go away.  Trevor Lacey, who led the Wolfpack with 18 points, hit a three to put NC State up 54-53 with 7:17 to go.

“We made a run of our own and we wanted to just make sure we didn’t come out and not have any energy and let them get easy buckets,” Lacey said.

Gill Comes Off Bench to Be Unlikely Hero

Two minutes after Lacey's basket, Gill took over and ended the NC State run.  Pitino said he knew that it was only a matter of time before Gill got the opportunity to help his team.

“Anton and I had an interesting conversation the other day,” Pitino said.  “I called him up and I was working out, and I said, son, you’re mentally in a funk.  It’s nothing you’re doing wrong because you’re playing behind Terry Rozier, who’s an unbelievable player.”

He then went on to tell Gill about Darryl Wright, a bench player on the 1987 Providence basketball team that Pitino took to the Final Four.  Pitino said Wright gave the team an “unbelievable lift” during their run.

“He was the MVP of the region coming off the bench,” Pitino said.  “I said (to Gill) ‘You’re going to get your opportunity, son.’”

Pitino said the way Gill responded to that conversation made him turn to him off the bench in the second half instead of freshman Shaqquan Aaron.

“Some guys will just give you lip service, he said ‘I got you, Coach, and I’ll be ready,” Pitino said.  “Most kids don’t react that way.  So when it was time, his reaction to my story was the reason I went with him at the three.”  

And Pitino's choice worked out well.  After Gill’s seven points, Louisville never gave up its lead.  He also added a steal with 2:08 to play that led to a Harrell layup and put the Cardinals up ten.  Louisville went on to win by that margin, securing its spot in the Elite 8 against Michigan State on Sunday. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

No. 1 Syracuse dominates no. 4 Duke: A photo story

By Lauren Williams

The fourth-ranked Blue Devils found it difficult to overcome no. 1 Syracuse's powerful offense at the Carrier Dome on Sunday. The Orange found the back of the net four times within the first seven minutes of the game. By the end of the first half, the Orange men surged to a 12 point lead, 13-1.  Ten Syracuse players tallied points, with redshirt junior Dylan Donahue leading the campaign with five points. Senior Kevin Rice added four and redshirt senior Henry Schoonmaker netted 3. Here is the game in photos.

Top Ranked Syracuse Men's Lacrosse Stays Perfect With 19-7 Win Over No. 4 Duke

Story and Video by Robin Deehan
Photo by Lauren Williams

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The No. 1 Syracuse men’s lacrosse team demolished the back-to-back defending national champion and ACC rival No. 4 Duke Blue Devils 19 -7 Sunday afternoon in the Carrier Dome to remain unbeaten.

“I was really happy with the performance of our team, and I thought our assistant coaches did a great job of getting our offense and defense ready for what they were going to see today, and I think we just played well from one end of the field to the other,” Syracuse head coach John Desko said.

In front of a rowdy crowd of 11,408 fans, the Orange out-shot the Blue Devils 44 to 35, won 17 of 29 face-offs and converted four of six extra man opportunities in the Orange win.

“There’s not much to say here other than we got taken out to the woodshed,” Duke head coach John Danowski said. “Syracuse was terrific and we have to tip our hat to the Orange, they were ready, focused and they were great today.”

Defensive Dominance

The Blue Devil offense is ranked third nationally in scoring offense with an average of 16 goals per game and boasts one of the best players in the country in midfielder Myles Jones.

Coming into the game, Jones led the ACC with 45 points on 24 goals and 21 assists and was ranked fifth in the nation in points-per-game average.

But thanks to outstanding defensive coverage from Brandon Mullins, Jones was held to no goals on eight shots, one assist and one ground ball.

The SU defense also forced Jones to turn the ball over four times, two that came from big hits by Mullins.

“With a player like Jones you really have to slide hard to him or you’re going to get knocked over yourself,” Mullins said. “We knew they had a good midfield and we were going to slide early to them and I think our game plan was successful.”

The Syracuse defense held the Blue Devils to just seven goals on the day, allowing only one in the first half.

“Syracuse had a really good game plan for our offense, they knew where we like to go with the ball and our tendencies so they covered everything really well and we got frustrated not having the ball,” Jones said.

SU keeper Bobby Wardwell stepped up with 11 saves and allowed only two goals in his 48 minutes between the pipes. 

“Bobby Wardwell was tremendous,” Desko said. “I don’t know how many one-on-one saves he had today so he really helped keep that one [goal] where it was in the first half and defensively we slid, we covered and we knew where their people were going to be when they dodged.”

Offensive Pressure

The offensive unit dominated the Blue Devil defense with ten different Orange men finding the back of the cage despite missing one of their best players.

Senior attackman Randy Staats, who has 15 goals and 11 assists on the season, was sidelined due to a lower body injury.

After SU missed its first six shots of the game the Orange finally adjusted to the absence of Staats when Kevin Rice found Henry Schoonmaker for the score to get things rolling.

Rice, a senior attackmen from Skaneateles, had a hand in the next three goals scoring twice and dishing out an assist to put the Orange up 4-0 halfway through the first quarter.

“Obviously when you’re playing without a guy like Randy [Staats] everyone else has to step up and elevate their game, Randy [Staats] does so many things well for us that we all needed to bring our A game today,” Rice said.

The Blue Devils finally got on the board with a minute and a half left to play in the first quarter when Case Matheis snuck one past Wardwell.

But SU answered right back when Dylan Donahue found Schoonmaker for the score with just 10 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

And thanks to Ben Williams going 13 for 16 at the face-off in the first half the Orange went on a nine-goal run for that saw scores from Tim Barber, Williams, Nick Weston, Hakeem Lecky, and Donahue to send the Orange into the locker room with a commanding 13-1 lead.

“Our offense really put them [Duke] in a position they didn’t want to be in,"Mullins said. "We got up on them and some of their offensive guys started taking shots they didn’t really want, so props to our offensive guys,”

Duke’s best chance at showcasing its offense came in the fourth quarter when Justin Guterding, Jack Bruckner and Brian Dailey scored three unanswered goals for the Blue Devils in a two-minute span.

But the Orange answered back with three goals of their own from J.T. Forkin, Donahue and Matt Lane who scored his first career goal to put the Orange up 19-5.

With SU reserves in the game and backup Warren Hill in goal game, the Blue Devils went on to score the final two goals of the game from Deemer Class and Tanner Scott but it wasn’t enough and the Orange improved to 7-0, 2-0 ACC while the Blue Devils dropped to (7-2, 0-1 ACC).

Difference Makers

Rice and Camillus native Donahue lead all players with seven points apiece and even connected with each other three times for scores.

Schoonmaker chipped in with three goals and Barber, Lecky, Williams, Joe Gillis, Weston, Forkin and Lane each had one.

Ben Williams continued brilliance at the face-off found him winning 14 of the 22 that he took and on the Tewaaraton Award watch list, given annually to the nation’s top player.

Up Next

The Orange will head to South Bend, Indiana for a game next Saturday March 28. It will be the team's  first true road test against No. 3 Notre Dame, which shut our No. 15 Ohio State 9-0 on Sunday.

“A lot of our big games have been home so we have a real test coming up with Notre Dame on the road,” Desko said.  “To play outside, who knows what the weather will be like so we are going to try to practice outside a lot this week so it’s going to be a great challenge, they [Notre Dame] are going to be fired up.”

The last time these two teams met was April 27, 2014 when Notre Dame edged Syracuse 15-14 in the ACC Championship game.

Opening face-off is scheduled for noon.

Syracuse Defense Shuts Down Top Duke Player in 19-7 Win

By Jessica Eley

©Lauren Williams
Syracuse, N.Y. -- No. 1 Syracuse squashed no. 4 Duke's hopes of rallying behind junior midfielder, Myles Jones, for an upset Sunday afternoon. The Orange (7-0, 2-0 ACC) whipped the Blue Devils (7-2, 0-1 ACC) 19-7 at the Carrier Dome.

Jones is one of the top players in the nation, leading his team with 45 points. He averages 5.63 points-per-game, but against the Orange only had one.

"One of the things that Myles has to learn even though he's a junior, with all the limelight and all the articles and everything that's being read, there's a lot of responsibility that goes with that and sometimes you have to let the game come to you," Duke head coach John Danowski said.

Dominating Start

Duke's defense was strongy in the beginning of the first quarter but once Syracuse scored with the clock at 11:18, the Blue Devil defense fell apart.

Redshirt junior defender Brandon Mullins said the Orange's offense put the Blue Devils in a position they didn't want to be in.

"We got up on them, and then their offensive guys started taking shots, they normally wouldn't have," Mullins said.

SU went on a 4-0 run before Danowski called a timeout to slow down the Syracuse momentum. Still the Orange stretched it to 5-0 before Case Matheis scored for Duke with 1:29 left in the quarter. That would be the Blue Devils' only goal of the half. Syracuse lead Duke 13-1 at halftime.

The 6'3 Jones said his team wasn't going to give up.

"Obviously the game is what it is, we were going to fight to the end," Jones said. "Our coach told us there was time left on the clock.

Duke's Frustrating Finish

Coming out of the half, Duke didn't put another point on the board until more than halfway through the third quarter. The Blue Devils began to look frustrated.

Jones was knocked down to the ground by Mullins, causing a turnover for the Blue Devils. The crowd erupted.

"I mean a player like Jones, you gotta really slide hard to him or else you're going to get knocked over yourself," Mullins said. "I think our game plan was pretty successful."

Danowski said Jones was trying to do too much, which was causing him to make more mistakes.

"I thought he tried to force the game, he tried to force the ball a bunch today," Danowski said. "Just some things that when you're trying to catch up, you're down and think that you're the man, you've got to make those plays...natural for a 21-year-old."

Jones had three shots blocked to end the second half.

With Orange reserves in the game Duke began to pick up some steam scoring five more points towards the end, but it was too little, far too late.

Up Next

The Orange will face off against No. 5 Notre Dame in South Bend next Saturday. It will be the first game SU will have played on an opponent's field this season..

Thursday, March 19, 2015

WNBA President Laurel Richie: "Showing the World What's Possible"

By Michael Castellano

Syracuse, N.Y. -- What's your dream job?

For Laurel Richie, who will enter her fifth season as President of the Women's National Basketball Association this summer, her dream job happened upon her in an interesting manner.

"I was speaking at a Girl Scouts event in Seattle[she served as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Girl Scouts of the USA prior to joining the WNBA] and the owners of the Seattle Storm were in the audience," Richie said. "They evidently sent my bio to New York and said 'you should talk to her.' And two weeks later, I got a call and the next thing I knew, you know, it was tip-off."

That's one of the stories Richie told during a visit to Syracuse University to speak as part of the University Lectures series at Hendricks Chapel. Her visit included an informal dinner with selected students, faculty and administration and a one-one-one interview with the Newhouse Sports Media Center.

When Richie was hired by former NBA commissioner David Stern in May of 2011 the league was struggling to stay afloat outside of financial support from the NBA. But since Richie was hired, she says the league has extended its TV partnership with ESPN thru 2025 and has seen steady growth in its television ratings and attendance numbers. But one of the main focal points of the recent boom in popularity of the W has more to do with Richie's skills as a marketer than anything else.

"We have our marquee partner in Boost Mobile who will be with us again this season," Richie said. "So I think this is going to be a good year."

Advertising background

A Dartmouth College graduate, before joining the WNBA Richie spent 20 plus years at advertising firm Ogilvy and Mather working for such prominent clients as American Express and Huggies. But with all her experience in branding and marketing she had virtually no experience in sports besides cheerleading and synchronized swimming during her youth.

As Richie admitted she tends to answer most questions nowadays with stories rather than cookie cutter remarks and one story worth hearing is how her interview went with David Stern as she was in the process of being hired.

"I was sitting there in his office and he said there's got to be something about you we can market," Richie said. "And I said well I was a synchronized swimmer when I was younger. He dropped his heads and put his hands in his face."

She says the relationship between the NBA and WNBA is greater than ever considering former commisioner Stern and new lead man Adam Silver were both major parts of the original blueprint for the league way back in 1996.

"He[Silver] has a great desire for experimentation," Richie said. "He has really taken on the notion of transparancy and I think we'll see the same things in the WNBA and I think we will continue to receive the support from Adam Silver."

We've already seen the idea of transparency represented in the W with the recent WNBA Pride initiative that debuted last season.

Richie said when she took over that "we need to identify segments of the audience that we can efficiently and effectively go after" and the league has achieved that with WNBA Pride which celebrates inclusion and equality while combatting anti-LGBT bias. 29-percent of the WNBA audience is lesbian, Richie said.

Who better of the league's star athletes to represent the WNBA Pride initiative then the larger than life Brittney Griner. Griner, who came out publicly as lesbian in 2013 two days after the WNBA Draft, was the face of women's college basketball while starring at Baylor University and has assumed a similar role in the W.

Recognizable stars

"At the end of the day people don't really follow leagues or teams, they follow players," Richie said.

Another top player from that 2013 draft class is Tulsa Shock star Skylar Diggins. Diggins actions off the court to further brand herself aside from basketball have helped in the overall marketing vision of Richie who is trying to improve the image of the league and its players.

"Both her off the court and on the court performance is terrific for the league," Richie said.

Diggins has been featured on the cover of Vogue, inside Sports Illustrated, has sponsorships with Nike and Sprint and is one of the few star WNBA athletes who chooses not to play overseas in the postseason, but rather to enhance her basketball skills and brand name here in the states.

Richie told the audience of well over 100 people at Hendricks Chapel for her speech on the WNBA: "Showing the World What's Possible" she wants her league to be a destination for "the next generation of women."

The WNBA leader takes a motherly approach to the league she runs.

"I don't have any children of my own," Richie said. "But I have 140 women who are like my
daughters now."

Boeheim Rebuts NCAA Findings During Hour-long News Conference

Story by Joshua Carney
Photo by Jiayang Zhange

Syracuse, N.Y. -- In front of more than 60 members of the local media, and a national audience on ESPN, Syracuse men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim lashed out at the NCAA during a news conference, at the Carrier Dome, Thursday. It was his first news conference since the NCAA handed down penalties to the University just under two weeks ago.

For more than an hour Boeheim read a statement on the rulings and answered questions about his planned retirement three years from now and much more.

No chance to rebut
Found to be in violation of the NCAA’s head coaching bylaws by failing to promote an environment of compliance within the program, as well as cases of academic fraud and drug policy violations, Boeheim said that he is frustrated that he wasn’t given the opportunity to rebut the findings.

“I believe that a head coach should have the opportunity to rebut the presumption of responsibility stated in the head coach responsibility bylaw by demonstrating that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance within the program and that he monitored the activities regarding compliance of those within the program,” Boeheim said. “The head coach responsibility bylaw was not and was never intended to be strict liability. In our case, however, the committee imposed penalties on me personally without giving credence to my efforts to promote compliance within the men’s basketball program, which is contrary to the head coach responsibility bylaw.”
Boeheim added that when the University first was notified of the alleged violations in 2011, he was not charged with a violation. However, it wasn’t until the second notification of alleged violations that Boeheim was charged with the violation of head coaching bylaws. Despite the original alleged violations against the University remaining the same, the 70-year-old coach was hit with a new charge without getting the opportunity to state his case.
“At that time that I even offered to make myself available to NCAA enforcement staff for an interview to discuss the atmosphere of compliance within the men’s basketball program, something the NCAA enforcement staff did not specifically ask me about in my prior interviews,” Boeheim said. “But the enforcement staff declined to listen to the additional information that I had…I believe that my effort to promote an atmosphere of compliance with the men’s basketball program was disregarded by the enforcement staff and the committee on infractions. That ultimately led to my suspension for the first nine ACC games of the 2015-16 season.”

He will appeal suspension

Confirming Chancellor Kent Syverud’s statement that the University will appeal the NCAA’s penalties, Boeheim said that he felt the NCAA is punishing current and future Syracuse University athletes – including himself – in an unduly harsh manner.
“I fully accept as head coach of the men’s basketball program that I am responsible for the conduct of everyone within our program,” Boeheim said. “And I deeply regret that any violations occurred within our program because one violation is one too many. However, given the circumstance, I believe that the penalty imposed on the university as a whole and me individually are unduly harsh. I believe that the NCAA is punishing current and future student-athletes for the conduct of a few individuals who are no longer associated in any way with Syracuse University. For these reasons, I am choosing to appeal the NCAA committee on infractions’ decision. I believe in what we are doing at Syracuse University and I will continue to build on the great program that we have established.”

After finishing his 17-minute statement to open the news conference, Boeheim addressed the report that he will retire from the position of head men’s basketball coach in three years. He did hint at the thought that he could have stepped down after the 2012 Final Four, but he said he didn’t feel that the program was in a good place at the time because of the ongoing NCAA investigation. In fact, Boeheim stated that if he didn’t feel he was effective as a coach after next season he would step away.

Now that the penalties have officially been handed down, Boeheim said that he wants to make sure the program is in a good place – which he feels it will be when it’s time for him to step down – before walking away from a school that he’s been a part of for 53 years.
“It’s obvious that there is a timeframe for me as the head basketball coach,” Boeheim said. “As the Chancellor indicated in his statement yesterday, I feel three years is right for me to be able to continue to do my job as well as I possibly can. The completion of the investigation actually clarified for me in my own mind my plans for the future and my decision to establish that timeline with Chancellor Syverud. Three years is probably longer than I was planning prior to this investigation. However, given all of these developments, it is the right time in the program.”
With regard to questions about his legacy as one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history, Boeheim said that he doesn’t care about the vacated wins as much as he does about the loss of scholarships and suspension. Having already proved time and time again how good of a coach he is, Boeheim – in his 39th year at the helm of Syracuse basketball – said that at the end of the day he doesn’t care about wins and losses.
“When the final time comes, is it really important how many games you’ve won or lost?”

Pictures: Syracuse Women's Lacross Dominates Cornell, 14-8

Photos by Jiayang Zhang

Syracuse, N.Y - The Orange women extended their winning streak since the spring break to three games on Tuesday.  Kailah Kempney scored a swift first goal for the Orange at the seven seconds in and SU led at the half 9-3. The Big Red tied the Orange in second half scoring 5-5, but was not enough to turn the game around but wound up losing 14-8. 

Here is a look at the game in pictures. Click on any photo to start slide show.