Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Syracuse Uses Pressure to Crush Central Connecticut State

Story and photo by Robert Magobet

Syracuse, N.Y. -  Led by Briana Day and Diamond Henderson, Syracuse got off to a fast start and pummeled Central Connecticut State 74-43 on Tuesday night in the Carrier Dome. It was the final tune-up game for the No. 21/22 Orange Women before Atlantic Coast Conference play.
“Just really proud of our kids,” head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “It’s really one of our more complete games shooting 42-percent from the field; that’s very good for us. We turned them over 28 times. Our pressure was very good. I thought we got into our press and forced tempo. The more free-throws you get the more times you can press. That was the difference in the game.”

The Orange (10-3) started with a 13-2 run because of the press defense both full-court and half. Though Brianna Butler hit the game’s first basket with a three-pointer, the main contributors were Briana Day and Diamond Henderson.

The 6'4" sophomore center Day set the tone early and often by scoring down low, making key passes, blocking shots and playing solid defense on Central Connecticut State’s leading scorer Tejahne Malone, who wound up with just 9 points. Day contributed 11 points, nine rebounds, two steals and seven blocks.

“I don’t think I played that well,” Day said. “But I did okay. I can always do better I feel like. So I’m going to work on that for our next game and throughout the year."

The Lady Blue Devils (4-7)  shot only four free throws for the night, converting three.

“I’m very impressed that we weren’t fouling that much,” Day said. “That was our goal going into the game, not getting them a lot of free throws. Yea we did pretty well with that tonight so I’m pretty impressed.”
With 2:55 left in the first half, the score was 26-20 but the Orange ended the half on a 10-0 run—the point in the game when Central Connecticut State began to fade. Day had three blocks, two rebounds, one steal and three points in that time span. Henderson chipped in one steal and four points —she finished the game with 15 points, four assists and two steals.

“I think I’m playing alright,” Henderson said. “I don’t think I played my best basketball yet but overall I think I’ve been playing alright. You can only build from here.  This is about to be the most fun getting into the conference.”
 Alexis Peterson snatched an offensive rebound and scored a basket with nine seconds left in the first half making the score 35-20. Peterson made a free-throw that put the score at 36-20 at the end of the half. Peterson totaled 11 points, four rebounds and two steals.

“Well I think it just gives us momentum going into the second half knowing that we are ahead knowing that we ended on a good run,” Henderson said. “So then we came out in the second half and still had that same energy.”

Second string doesn’t miss a beat in second half:
The Orange continued to stifle the offense of Central Connecticut State by way of full-court traps, half-court traps and solid rotations on defense. The Orange expanded the lead to 58-38 before Briana Day subbed out for the remainder of the game. 

Toward the end of the second half, a mixture of reserves subbed in and played with key contributors Henderson and Fondren—Fondren finished the game with 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and four steals.

 “That was huge,” Hillsman said. “We had an opportunity just to keep some of our players off the floor and get them off their feet which is critical going into the second half of the season. Obviously legs are legs, so the more you keep them off the hardwood the better their going to be later in the season.”

Keys to the Game:
Syracuse scored 32 points off of the 28 forced turnovers in comparison to Central Connecticut State’s 12 forced turnovers leading to 11 points. The Orange shot 42.9-percent from the field versus Central Connecticut State’s 29.8- percent. Syracuse had 30 points in the paint versus six point for Central Connecticut State. Syracuse amassed 19 fast break points—Central Connecticut State didn’t score off fast breaks.

 What’s Next?
The Orange plays No. 4 Notre Dame 1 p.m. at the Carrier Dome this Sunday, Jan. 4 to open ACC play.



Sunday, December 28, 2014

Strong Second Half Makes Up for Sloppy First

Story and photos by Nicole Todd

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Syracuse Orange Women’s Basketball team took on its in-state rival the Cornell Big Red Sunday night in the Carrier Dome.  After a week-long holiday break the Orange  trailed the entire first half, but ended up getting its ninth win, 76-59.

Sykes' Season Debut

It was not only the Orange’s first game from break, but also Brittney Sykes' first game back after being out all season due to a torn ACL from last season's first round NCAA tournament game. Sykes tweeted earlier Sunday “back again.”

She was Syracuse’s leading scorer in the 2013-14 season with an average of 16.6 points.  In Sunday nights game Sykes had one basket and seven rebounds in her 18 minutes of playing time. 

“I didn’t get too emotional until the game started,” she said.

The team had played 11 games this season (eight wins) without Sykes. "That’s what great teams do," she said. "They find a way to win when there’s missing pieces.”   

Second Half Tempo

The Orange (9-3) trailed the Big Red (6-5) during the entire first half, closing the score to 34-32 before heading into the locker room. Cornell had led by as many as to ten points in the first half. It was first time since last season's NCAA tournament that SU had trailed at the half.

“We played a really sloppy first half” Coach Quentin Hillsman said.
In the second half, Cornell again brought its lead up to nine at 45-36.  But the Orange got 12 straight points to take the lead for the first time since the first two minutes of the game.  Syracuse cruised home from there.

Guard Alexis Peterson led the Orange with 18 points and five assists.  Cornelia Fondren and Briana Day each had 11 points.

Kerri Moran and Nia Marshall each had 14 for Cornell.

Up Next

Syracuse plays Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Carrier Dome against Central Connecticut State, the last non-conference game of the season.  

Orange Shooters Emerge as SU Beats Long Beach State

Story and photo by Robert Magobet
Syracuse, N.Y. - Long Beach State's 49ers kept it close at halftime but Syracuse used solid shooting to pull away at the Carrier Dome, Sunday afternoon. The Orange (8-4) ended up winning 85-67 with Rakeem Christmas and Michael Gbinije scoring 24 points each and Trevor Cooney adding 18.
“We were as good...all game as we been all year,” Boeheim said of his team's offense. “We were moving the basketball. When Rak got it he got doubled, he got it out of there."

"We didn’t play defense the first half and that was something that was a big concern. We've got to play better defensively. We picked up a little bit better in the second half."  

Three-point shooting:
Small forward Gbinije remained consistent all game helping Syracuse stay close early in the first half as well as helping Syracuse pull away in the second. Gbinije went 4-of-6 from three-point land. He added eight assists to his 24 points. Overall Syracuse went 7-of-12 from three-point range and Long Beach State went 6-of-23.

“Part of it was really Rak,” Gbinije said. “As he got going they forced double teams. I just happened to be the guy left open.  We got some in transition; the press set it up. It’s a little bit of me getting open and just being ready but at the same time other people are making plays that got me open as well.
"It feels really good. I haven’t felt like that in a long time so I just hope I can keep it up and still not get satisfied with shooting jump shots.”
Christmas anchored the middle adding 10 rebounds and two blocks to his 24 points.
Cooney shot 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and had five rebounds and two assists.
At the end of the first half, Cooney stole the ball off a 49ers inbounds pass and stroked a 30-foot three-point basket as his momentum took him forward. The shot seemed to give the Orange energy going into the second half.

“I guess it had to,” Cooney said. “When a shot like that goes in it definitely adds something. I mean I’m glad it went in.”

While the final score made it look as though the 49ers never stood a chance, they led early, shooting 15-27 in the half and it took Cooney's 3-point heave to give SU a 44-40 lead at the break.

The 49ers started the game on a 14-4 run and boos echoed through the arena. Long Beach State did a good job of being patient, moving the ball side-to-side before passing the ball in the middle to forward David Samuels where he scored repeatedly in the paint.

Syracuse started using its full-court press  to generate a pair of 11-0 runs and the Orange led 28-21 just under the 8-minute mark. Gbinije and Cooney hit five 3-pointers between  them in the first half.

But the 49ers fought back and had the ball, trailing by just one before Cooney stole the pass and hit the heave at the half.

The pressure and better zone defense in the second half caused Long Beach State to commit 15 turnovers in the game that amounted to 24 points for Syracuse off those turnovers. Long Beach state only had six points off of Syracuse’s 13 turnovers.
“In the second half we just started picking up our defense,” Christmas said. “We made them take tougher shots and started getting the ball in the middle.”
Samuels finished the game with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists for Long Beach State. Mike Caffey had 14 points and six assists while Tyler Lamb contributed 14 points.

For the game, Syracuse shot 75-percent (18-24) from the free-throw line while Long Beach State shot 87.5-percent (7-8) but had 16 fewer chances.  Christmas, who has often been foul trouble this season, did not pick up a single foul while playing 37 minutes.

Syracuse plays Cornell on New Year’s Eve 6:00 at the Carrier Dome. Cornell is 2-2 in December while Syracuse is 3-3.





Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Orange Offense Shines in Commanding Win Over Colgate

Story and photo by Emily Dick.

Syracuse, N.Y.-- The Syracuse Orange had to bounce back from a tough overtime loss to Villanova last Saturday quickly to face the Colgate Raiders Monday night.

In front of an announced Carrier Dome crowd of 18,905, the Orange (7-4) seemed to take out some of its recent frustration, rolling over the Raiders (3-9) in a 78-43 win.

But coach Jim Boeheim doesn't want his team to focus on the past.

“You just want to get to the next game and move on. It’s a long season and you can’t dwell on what has already happened,” Boeheim said.

Shooters Find Stride

Syracuse came out strong offensively with a 16-point run to lead Colgate, 22-5, early in the game.

Redshirt junior guard Trevor Cooney and Junior Michael Gbinije sparked the Orange offense with back-to-back 3-pointers in the first half. Cooney finished 4-9 from deep with 20 points, while Gbinije added 11 points, shooting 2-3 from three.  

Senior center Rakeem Christmas added his third double-double to the mix with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Cooney, who started the season cold, shooting 27 percent from 3-point range in November, is now shooting 43 percent in December. He said he’s starting to feel more comfortable.

I'm just seeing the floor better. I'm looking for more opportunities. I'm reading the plays better," Cooney said after the game. "That just comes with working with guys like G-Mac (Coach Gerry McNamara) and looking at film. And just looking to be more aggressive from the start.”

Syracuse Bench

After going into halftime with a 43-13 lead, the Orange continued to extend its lead to as much as 43-points in the second half.

Many of the Syracuse starters took seats late in the game to give the bench more minutes. Sophomore guard Ron Patterson added 13 points off the bench, shooting 3-6 from three. Halfway through the second half, Patterson scored eight straight points within one minute and 15 seconds.

“I’m just trying to stay consistent,” Patterson said, “I want to help the team.”

The Syracuse bench scored 27 points in the win. The entire team shot 46.7 percent from the field, along with 50 percent from three.

Where to Improve:

“We’ve had a lot of tough games and I think that overall we have gotten better,” Boeheim said. “But we’ve still got a long way to go to be where we’d like to be, a long way.”

The Orange has struggled with free throws this season, and even in the win, only shot 57 percent from the line.

Turnovers have also plagued Syracuse. The team gave up the ball six times against Colgate, which was a season best, but all six of those turnovers were in the second half.  Syracuse is known to be inconsistent. Against Villanova, the team turned the ball over 20 times.

Another inconsistency? Freshman forward Chris McCullough.

After scoring double digits in the first eight games of the season, McCullough has scored a combined 12 points in the last three games. His field goal percentage for his three-game skid is eleven.

"It's definitely a little slump right now," McCullough said. "I need to get back to it, get re-focused, rest up for this little break and come back ready. I've been through this a lot. It happens to every basketball player. No, I'm not concerned."

The team has a short break for Christmas and will be back in the Dome this Sunday, Dec.28 to take on Long Beach State. Syracuse has two games left before ACC conference games begin.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Orange Falls in Overtime to Former Big East Rival Villanova

By: Lauren Foti

Philadelphia -- Despite being ahead for almost all of regulation, the Syracuse Orange could not hold former Big East foe the No. 7 Villanova Wildcats. Leading by five with eleven seconds to go in regulation, the Orange saw the Wildcats tie it with a three, a steal and a layup, then go on to win in overtime 82-77, Saturday afternoon. 

"It was a great effort," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. "But when you have control of the game at the end you need to finish the game, and we just didn't."

The matchup between the Orange (6-4) and the undefeated Wildcats (11-0) drew a crowd of 18,369 to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

First Half

Syracuse was the first to get on the board jumping out to a quick 4-0 lead after winning the tip off. In the first half the Orange's offense clicked, shooting 63-percent from the field and 66.7-percent from three-point range.
Michael Gbinije had eleven first-half points and Syracuse went into halftime leading the Wildcats 43-31.

While the offense moved the ball around the perimeter creating opportunities for Rakeem Christmas and Gbinije, fouls would ultimately hurt. Both fouled out in overtime along with forward Chris McCullough who spent most of the game in foul trouble.

Second Half

The Wildcats struck quickly in the second half going on a 12-4 run.  Villanova's Darrun Hilliard scored eight straight points including a pair of threes. dropping the Syracuse lead from 14 to six within the first minutes.

The Orange men ramped things up but they could not regain the large lead they once had over the Wildcats. They were ahead by 16 early in the second half.

Syracuse appeared to have the upset in hand, leading 69-64 on two Trevor Cooney free throws, but Josh Hart hit a three and on the ensuing inbounds pass JayVaughn Pinkston tipped the ball away from Christmas. Ryan Arcidiacano. grabbed it then hit Pinkston for the tying layup.

Gbinje's heave at the buzzer fell short.


Villanova’s Hilliard was the first to score in the overtime from the foul line giving ‘Nova its first lead of the game.

The Orange answered back but the Wildcats drew fouls on McCullough and Christmas and both fouled out.

Syracuse trailed by one with :37 left but the Wildcats made six straight free throws to seal it.
Villanova shot 26 for 32 at the line. Syracuse made 13 of 18.

Pinkston led the Wildcats scoring with 25 points, while Hillard had 23 and Hart added 21.

Gbinije and Christmas had 18 points each for Syracuse, while Cooney racked up 17 points, shooting 3-5 from behind the threepoint line.
Freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph got the first double-double of his college career. Joseph racked up 10 points and ten assists. 

"Guys were hitting shots, that makes a difference,"  Joseph said. "Helps the guy’s confidence. That makes a world's difference coming into games like this"
"This obviously was a much better effort," Boeheim said, when asked about getting ready for ACC play. "But we've still got some work to do.

For now Coach Boeheim is looking at the Orange's next game, against Colgate at the Carrier Dome Monday December 22 at 7:00pm.



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cooney, Orange still searching for consistency as ACC play nears

Story By Michael Castellano 


The last time Trevor Cooney scored over 20 points in a game he did so in historic fashion tying an SU record with 9 threes in a win over Notre Dame early last February to give the Orange its 22nd straight win. That streak eventually stretched to 25.

However, just two weeks after that win over the Irish, Syracuse suffered its first loss of the season to Boston College and then continued a downward spiral, losing four of its last six to end the season and going out in the first round of the ACC tournament. Its season concluded with a third round 55-53 loss in the NCAA Tournament to Dayton.

Mired in that late season collapse was a breakdown from beyond the arc for the previously sharpshooting Cooney who made just 29-percent from three during the second half of the year including going 1-6 in the loss to Dayton. He was shooting 50-percent from long-range up until mid-January.

Cooney scored 25 points on Sunday afternoon against Louisiana Tech on 4-8 shooting from three.

But that's irrelevant. All shooters will go through streaks both good and bad during the course of a season as we saw last year with Cooney. What was promising last game against the Bulldogs was something we've only seen a few times this year from Cooney.

With 10:27 to play in the second half, he inbounded the ball from the right baseline with SU up 45-39. He threw it into Rakeem Christmas who gave it right back. Cooney lined up behind the arc in the corner and hit the three with LaTech's Raheem Appleby right in his face. It was only the second "hard" shot, as Coach Jim Boeheim put it, that he has hit this season.

"He made a hard one tonight off the screen up top off Rak," Boeheim said. "He hasn't made the hard ones this year and he's mostly going to get hard ones."

But it's been not only the "hard ones" but also the easy ones that haven't gone down for Cooney this season. Going into Sunday's game Cooney was shooting just 28-percent from three-point range. That number improved to 32-percent after his four made threes against the Bulldogs.

Through nine games last year Cooney was shooting 48-percent from beyond the arc and had sunk 31 threes. Through nine games this season the redshirt-junior is shooting just 31-percent from long-range.

Numbers like these may lead one to believe Cooney has something to prove especially to NBA scouts(including the six in attendance against Louisiana Tech) who may view him as only a long range threat who can't create his own shot. Or the naysayers who say he only had such a successful season last year because he reaped the rewards of playing with one of the most talented point guards in the country in Tyler Ennis who averaged 5.5 assists in 2013-14.

But according to Boeheim, Cooney has little to prove.

"He doesn't have to prove anything to anybody," Boeheim said. "Well I don't know about anybody else, but he doesn't have to prove anything to me. He's already done that."

What Cooney does have to prove is the extent to which other parts of his game have improved and we are slowly starting to see that as the season progresses.

Over the last two games against St. John's and LaTech Cooney's hit five two-pointers. He had hit only 10 through SU's first seven games on the season. He is 15-32 inside the three-point line this season

One of those 15 came on the first possession of the game against LaTech at the 19:43 mark when

Cooney had the ball at the top of the key, dribbled left against Appleby, and threw in a left handed layup for his first of 25 points on the afternoon.

"Trevor played the way he has to play," Boeheim said. "He was a player; he wasn't a shooter. He got to the basket, he drove, he made plays and that's a huge huge thing for us."

It's especially huge when the team leaders in scoring in Rakeem Christmas(16.4) and Chris McCullough(13.3) combined for only 18 points against the Bulldogs, far less than the almost 30 they have averaged on the season so far. They combined for only eight second half points that afternoon for the Orange. Cooney had 17.

Some of those 17 second-half points were due in large part to the inside outside game the Orange had clicking against the Bulldogs. Christmas and McCullough combined for five assists on the afternoon two of which were dished out to Cooney because of the hard pressure LaTech was forcing inside on Christmas and McCullough.

"They're pressuring so hard and they're playing Rak so hard that there's really good gaps there[for Cooney]," Boeheim said.

Things will not get any easier in terms of shooting for the Orange men when they face-off against Tyler Ennis' brother Dylan and Villanova on Saturday. The 10-0 Wildcats have held opponents to just 26- percent shooting from three so far this season.

Don't tell that to Trevor Cooney though. In last year's matchup with the Wildcats Cooney had 21 points on 5-8 shooting from beyond the arc in the 78-62 Orange victory.

Saturday's contest will mark only the second game SU has played the last two weeks. Game time is set for 1p.m. from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Season-high Rebounding Helps Orange Women Crush Canisius

Story and Photos by Thomas Zhou
Syracuse, N.Y-

The Syracuse University women's basketball team (8-1) used a tremendous rebounding advantage to pull away for a 70-37 win over Canisius (4-5) on Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome.

While the No. 19/22 Orange had a lower shooting percentage (30.9%) than the Golden Griffins (33.3%), a season-high 67 rebounds, including 37 offensive boards, helped create more than enough chances to win. Sophomore Bria Day had a career-high 11 rebounds in 16 minutes.

"It feels good," said Briana Day, Bria's sister who contributed eight rebounds in 13 minutes, of Bria's performance."She really does work hard every day in practice. For her to come out to show that on the court. it’s really good for her."

Syracuse had 26 second-chance points in the game. All but Tiara Butler, who only logged three minutes, on the team grabbed at least two rebounds. Cornelia Fondren had nine, including six offensive rebounds.
"As for our rebounding, that was phenomenal,"Coach Quentin Hillsman said. "Obviously getting 67 rebounds in the game was tremendous.It got our kids a lot of effort for going after every miss. We boxed out to get on the glass on the defensive end."

In the first four minutes and 44 seconds of the game, the Orange collected 12 rebounds, eight of which were offensive. Eight of its 10 points came from second chances, giving the Orange a 10-5 lead.

The rest of the game went just like that. The Orange had an advantage in height when 6-foot-4 Briana Day and Bria Day competed with the Golden Griffins' 5-foot-10 forwards Crystal Porter and Jasmine Mungo. The two Canisius starters finished the game with six rebounds combined. Canisius had 31 rebounds. The Orange outscored the Golden Griffins in the paint, 30-12. 

"It was just us going,"Hillsman said. "Because if you have a height advantage and you are not being aggressive in the paint, it doesn't matter."

Peterson sparks

Guard Alexis Peterson scored a team-leading 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting. She made her first four three-point attempts and went 4-of-5 from behind the arc.

Peterson sparked the Orange early in the game with three consecutive three-pointers in a 15-0 run. She dished out six assists, including  and four in from the second half.

"They started to close me out a little bit more," Peterson said."I wanted to get my teammates involved."

Junior guard Brianna Butler had 15 points, but she went 2-of-10 from three-point range. Fondren added 10 points.

Up Next

After a four home game winning streak, the Orange will travel next o the Florida Sunshine Classic in Orlando. The first game against Baylor will begin at 7 p.m on Friday and the second against Michigan State at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

"We are very excited for this trip," Peterson said. "It is a great opportunity to play two very good teams. We are a great team ourselves. We just want to go out there and compete as hard as we can and play together. This is a great opportunity for us and our program."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Syracuse Scrapes by Louisiana Tech

By Nicole Todd

In the paint (c.) Nicole Todd
Syracuse, N.Y- The Syracuse Orange scraped by with a win against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 71-69, Sunday afternoon at the Carrier Dome, escaping a third straight early season loss. After the Bulldogs (7-3) had erased a ten-point deficit to tie the game at 69, center Rakeem Christmas banked home a shot in the lane with four seconds left and SU (6-3) hung on.


It wasn’t pretty, but two veteran players, Christmas and Trevor Cooney stepped up, bringing to mind their comments on ACC Media Day in Charlotte N.C. before the season began.

Cooney and his 3s
“I like being known as the shooter," Cooney said then.

Cooney had a season high 25 points Sunday with four 3-pointers.  He was 4-8 on 3s and 8-18 overall.  It was Cooney’s best game since last year against Notre Dame when he had career-high 33-points.  His first of four made 3-pointers Sunday came on an assist from Christmas with 14:18 to go in the first half to give SU the lead 14-12.
"I missed my first 3, but made the next one, it's all about staying positive," Cooney said.
Trevor Cooney (c.) Josh Carney

Sunday’s was the third highest scoring game of Cooney’s career.  He had 27-points last year against Cornell.
"Trevor played how he had to and he doesn't have to prove it to me," Coach Jim Boeheim said.  "He looked confident shooting threes today."
The Big Man as leader

Christmas said before the season that he wanted to step up more and take the lead. "I want to become more vocal on the court," he said, adding that he knew he needed to work on his communication skills with teammates both on and off the court.
He has been the Orange’s leading scorer (16.4) and had six points in the first five minutes of the game, including a huge one-handed dunk in response to Michale Kyser’s dunk just seconds before.  That brought the score to 8-8.

But both SU big men, Christmas and Chris McCullough had foul difficulties. McCullough fouled out late in the second half. Christmas sat more than ten minutes in the first half after picking up his second foul. He then picked up his fourth with more than ten minutes left in the game and sat again before coming back in at the 5:35 mark.
Gbinije out, Roberson helps
Michael Gbinije had two points and two assists in 14
Tyler Roberson made the most of his 33 minutes with 14-points and 17 rebounds - both career highs.  He was happy with the win but not with how the Orange played.
Tyler Roberson (c.) Josh Carney
"It wasn't our best game. We were up 10 points then gave it up, that can't happen," Roberson said.
minutes in the first half but sat out the entire second half.  “His back was tight,” Boeheim said.


With the Bulldogs pressuring SU and the Orange trapping Louisiana Tech, each team had 17 turnovers and eight of the Syracuse turnovers came from point guard Kaleb Joseph.

Fans anticipating a win with 2.8 seconds left (c) Nicole Todd

“Kaleb made some really good plays today,” Boeheim said. “But he can’t make those unforced (turnovers.)”

“This team is not anywhere near a good basketball team. Anywhere!” Boeheim said. “And I’ve never said that since I’ve been here.”

Next for the Orange
Syracuse is now 6-3 (5-1 at home) and will play at No. 7 Villanova on Saturday.