For many years, Syracuse was part of one of the best rivalries in all of college basketball. The games against Georgetown were easily the highlight of the regular season. It was the few days of the year that the whole city of Syracuse came together and shared a common factor: Their extreme and passionate hatred for Georgetown.
On game days, the environment in and around campus was electric. Everyone decked out in Orange, stores and offices closing early, students camping out overnight outside the Carrier Dome. It’s something I wish I could experience for myself. But I can’t.
Unfortunately, when the Orange left the Big East for the ACC these annual games disappeared from the schedule, leaving many ‘Cuse fans upset. There was no longer the historic rivalry that went back decades. Syracuse beat Georgetown in the Big East Tournament championship game in what was their last season as a part of the conference and haven’t played since.
Coming off a disappointing loss to Wisconsin at home on Wednesday, the Orange traveled to Washington D.C. to face off against their old Big East foes. However, from the very beginning of the game Syracuse struggled. Their abysmal shooting performance in the Wisconsin game followed them to D.C. As a team, The Orange shot just 38% (24-63) from the field.
Typically the Orange have been relatively effective shooting threes, but not against Georgetown. They continued to take an unnecessary amount of shots from behind the arc (27), most of which being forced. Making only 7 of their 27 three pointers in not a good sign from the Orange. As we’ve seen so far this season, Syracuse’s whole offense runs through the three point game. Going forward the Orange will face stiffer competition, especially during ACC play, which will take advantage of poor shooting. They need to shoot fewer threes and have better shot selection if they want to compete in a strong ACC.
The most troubling thing about this game, however, was the play down low. Syracuse’s lack of size is a huge issue. 6’9” DaJuan Coleman is their preliminary center with Tyler Lydon (6’8”) getting some time as well. Most, if not all, teams the Orange play are significantly bigger than them, which proved to be an true against Georgetown. Bradley Hayes (7’0”) was huge part of the Hoyas’ victory. The senior center dominated in the low post, dropping 21 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. The Orange could not defend Hayes, as he pushed around the often injured Coleman and the inexperienced freshman Lydon. It has been like this all season, but this inability to play in the low post was masked by the unbelievable three point shooting. Now that the shooting has cooled off, Syracuse desperately needs to develop their post play.
So, in Mike Hopkins’ first game as interim head coach, Syracuse lost its rivalry game 79-72. Very plainly, the Orange were outplayed. Georgetown exposed their weaknesses and took advantage of them. Among all these faults, there is a silver lining. The Syracuse/Georgetown rivalry is back and that’s something all ‘Cuse fans can get excited about.
Oh, and one more thing. Even though the Orange lost on Saturday, there is something that I, and all Syracuse fans, would like to say: It’s 8:46, and Georgetown still sucks.
Chris Broderick ’18