Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now


Archive for the ‘Basketball’


Final Four Berth For Syracuse Calls for Trip Down Memory Lane 1

Posted on April 02, 2016 by Chris Kent

Syracuse is back in the Final Four for men’s basketball! The Orange are making their second trip to college basketball’s biggest stage in the last four seasons, the shortest time between trips for the school in the history of the program which has now reached six Final Fours. This is the fifth time that Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has lead the Orange to the Final Four in this his 40th year as head coach of his alma mater. Syracuse punched its ticket to the Final Four with a thrilling 68-62 win over top-seeded Virginia in the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Regional final on Sunday March 27 at the United Center in Chicago. The Orange overcame a 16-point second-half deficit to post the victory.

Jim Boeheim will be coaching in his fifth Final Four as head coach of the Orange.

Jim Boeheim will be coaching in his fifth Final Four as head coach of the Orange.

Syracuse is only the fourth double digit seed to ever advance to the Final Four and the first 10 seed to do so. The Orange will face Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina in the national semifinals at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX. The Tarheels, the East Regional champions, are the tournament’s only number one seed to make it to the Final Four. A pair of two seeds will collide in the other national semifinal with South Regional champion Villanova meeting West Regional champion Oklahoma.

This improbable run by Syracuse marks what March Madness is all about. Living on the edge. Dramatic finishes behind thrilling comeback efforts. A team that was on the NCAA bubble but has shown why they deserved to be in the tournament. A gutsy and gritty team that has thrived off their chemistry. The Orange have only been ranked once all season which was on November 30 when they placed 14th in the AP top 25 poll and 19th in the USA Today Coaches Poll. They have only received votes on three other occasions during the season with those coming on December 7 and 14 and again on February 15. Syracuse was not even ranked in either of these preseason polls.

Although schools like UCLA (17, 11), Kentucky (17, 8), Duke (16, 5), Kansas (14, 3), Indiana (8, 5), Ohio State (10, 1), Michigan State (9, 2), and Louisville (10, 3) are college basketball thoroughbreds with a combined 101 Final Four appearances and 38 NCAA championships among them, the Orange program has its own high caliber history. The Syracuse program has stood the test of time by reaching at least one Final Four in every decade since the 1970’s started. That peaked in 2003 when the Orange won its’ only national championship.

Boeheim was an assistant coach on the 1974-75 Syracuse team that reached the school’s first Final Four. This is the first time that the Orange have made two trips to the Final Four in the same decade. Furthermore, Boeheim and Syracuse have made some of their loudest statements by beating some of those storied aforementioned schools in their Final Four seasons. The NCAA Tournament history of the Orange includes two wins each against Kansas and North Carolina and one win over Indiana in years that they went to the Final Four. Syracuse beat Kansas in the 1996 West Regional final and defeated them to win it all in 2003. The Orange beat North Carolina 78-76 in the semifinal of the East Regional in 1975 and again in the 1987 East Regional final. Syracuse’s win over Indiana came in the Sweet 16 in 2013.

Boeheim was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005 and has beaten fellow hall-of-famers in Dean Smith, Roy Williams, and Rick Pitino in NCAA Tournament play at least once each. This all supports the fact that Boeheim and the Orange program have risen to beat some of the best in the game when the stakes are the highest. In the process, he has positioned Syracuse in the national spotlight consistently throughout his career as a national contender year in and year out, despite not having the same NCAA Tournament accomplishments of other storied schools as is measured in quantity.

However quality has always been there and has continued even after reaching the program’s pinnacle in 2003. Since cutting down the nets as national champions 13 years ago, Boeheim has had the Orange in postseason play every year but one including 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament. During that same time, he has also led Syracuse to two Big East outright regular season championships (2010, ‘12), guided the Orange to four appearances (2005, ’06, ’09, ’13) and two wins (2005, ’06) in Big East Tournament championship games, had multiple teams rise to the number one ranking in the country, lead two teams to number one seeds in the NCAA Tournament (2010, ’12), garnered the AP national coach-of-the-year honor in 2010, and lead Syracuse to a school record 25-0 start (2013-14). Boeheim has done some of the best work of his career during this time and the teams, players, and coaches he has had reflect nothing but class and excellence for his program as well as the game.

Despite not always getting the top 20 recruits to become part of the Orange, Boeheim has been a steady example of how to use coaching, leadership, and a fierce competitive nature to get the best out of his players and teams as a whole. While he has had talented players on his Final Four teams such as Derrick Coleman, John Wallace, Carmelo Anthony, and Michael Carter-Williams, an equally important factor if not more has been the chemistry he has had on his teams. Chemistry refers to the way people work together in their interactions with one another. The more everyone can work together in support of a common goal, the better chemistry they have and this can have a positive impact on winning. Boeheim is the epitome of this and it has always stood out as an admirable quality in his coaching over his 40 years at the helm.

Chemistry is something that has been a common thread to all the Final Four teams in Syracuse history. The Orange have had a talented key player on each of their Final Four teams. However their other four starters over the years have been highly productive making them multi-dimensional. For example Howard Triche and Greg Monroe were senior co-captains that brought steady production and leadership during the school’s 1987 Final Four season. Even when Syracuse won the national title in 2003, he had serviceable role players come off the bench in Billy Edelin, Josh Pace, and Jeremy McNeil. While Boeheim has not always had a lot of depth, he has still been able to turn to a player or two off the bench to contribute and battle the opposing coach with the matchup game. Look no further to a player like Steven Thompson who was a key reserve on the 1987 Final Four team and then started for three more years.

Over the years, the Orange have played a lot of thrilling games that have captivated the hearts of Syracuse fans throughout Central, NY and captured national television audiences. There have been thrilling and dramatic finishes and elaborate wins where the Orange strutted their stuff. So here is a trip down memory lane for Syracuse fans and alumni of the program. The school’s five previous trips to the Final Four have been exciting. More thrilling dramatics could be in store in Houston this weekend. Here is a look back at what the Orange have done in their previous trips to the Final Four. Perhaps this look back offers a glimpse into the immediate future for Syracuse. If nothing else, thrilling competition usually takes place when the Orange are in the Final Four. Read the rest of this entry →

On This Day in 1985 Villanova Upsets Georgetown in NCAA Title Game 0

Posted on April 01, 2016 by Mike Raffone

Villanova 1985 NCAA Champs

April 1, 1985 marks a special day in NCAA college basketball history.

College basketball players, fans, coaches and pundits have claimed that on that memorable day 31 years ago the Villanova Wildcats emerged as the closest a team has ever come to playing a perfect game.

Also, many have cited that April 1, 1985 marked the greatest upset victory in the history of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship Games.

The iconic win captivated college basketball fans. At Lexington, Kentucky’s Rupp Arena, Villanova captured its first ever NCAA men’s tournament crown under its likeable chubby coach Rollie Massimino.

Seeded #8, Villanova remains the lowest ranked team to ever win an NCAA title. The Big East team bested #9 seed Dayton Flyers, #7 seed UNC Tar Heels, #5 seed Memphis State Tigers and #2 seed Michigan Wolverines to advance to the Big Dance’s biggest party.

On that special Monday night on April 1, 1985, Villanova played brilliantly against the previous year’s defending champion and dominating #1 overall seed in the field. Led by legendary coach John Thompson II, the Hoyas were odds on favorite to defeat the undersized and undermanned Wildcats. Read the rest of this entry →

Where are They Now? 7 Sports Stars after Retirement 0

Posted on March 14, 2016 by John Harris

Going from having millions of fans worldwide watching your every move and genuinely being one of the best – if not the best – at what you do on the planet, to the realms of being mere mortal is a difficult transition. And it isn’t one that every sportsman is able to navigate successfully. Largely due to a combination of a startling lack of business acumen, poor decisions, lavish lifestyles and divorce (reputedly around the 80% mark for top US athletes), it doesn’t take long for one time heroes to become zeros – sometimes literally when it comes to finances.

In 2009, Sports Illustrated published a report highlighting just how bad this problem is. It found that an astonishing 78% of NFL players find themselves in “financial distress” within just 2 years of retiring. Around 60% of NBA players, who with an average salary of $5million is higher than every other sport, are bankrupt within 5 years of calling it a day on the court.

This isn’t always the case however, here are some examples where top sportsmen have gone on to build a successful – and occasionally surprising –  career after retiring from their former profession.

 

1. Magic Johnson

One of the finest basketball players of all time, the point guard achieved practically everything there was to achieve in the game. During his 14-year career which included 2 comebacks, Johnson won 5 NBA titles, 3 Final MVPs, and 3 regular season MVPs, and even found the time for an Olympic gold medal. He still has the highest average assists per game in history – 11.2, and playoff assists – 12.3.

His career since retirement has been no less successful. Despite a less than auspicious start (his TV show was pulled after 2 months) Johnson found a taste for business and never looked back. He was one of those who invested in Starbucks before anyone had even heard of the now omnipresent coffee shop brand. His company – Magic Johnson Enterprises – has its fingers in many industries from banking to entertainment and has helped the former Laker star earn a reputed $500 million.

 

 

2. George Foreman

Foreman’s recent career has become so successful and high profile that anyone who can’t remember back to a time when everyone didn’t have a cell phone could be forgiven for thinking that this is what he has always done. The rest of us of course know that he was one of the most formidable and talented heavyweight boxers of all time. He will always have a place in boxing folklore due to his part in the Rumble in the Jungle – one the most famous and entertaining fights of all time, but his record stands up for itself: 81 fights, 76 wins, 68 of those by way of KO, and just 5 defeats. And don’t forget that most of those were during the golden era of heavyweight boxing.

ALI FOREMAN

When he came out of retirement at age 45 to knock Michael Moorer (then 27) out, he became the oldest heavyweight world champion in history.  When he finally retired for good, he teamed up with Russell Hobbs Inc, and launched the George Foreman Fat Reducing Grill, which he had helped design. It was an instant success and has sold over 100 million units in less than 15 years. Though he has never disclosed how much he has made from the grill, it is believed at its peak the preacher was earning $4.5 million a month. In total, it is estimated he has earned in excess of $200 million from the endorsement. A lot more than he than he ever made in the ring, actually. Read the rest of this entry →

NCAA Fortunes of Syracuse Orange on the Bubble 1

Posted on March 11, 2016 by Chris Kent

Will the bubble burst for the Syracuse Orange come selection Sunday in another two days? That is in the hands of the NCAA selection committee. While ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi forecasted earlier in the week that the Orange were his last team to receive entry into the field of 68, Syracuse will have to sweat it out over the next couple of days. What happens with other “bubble” teams in conference tournaments will largely dictate whether or not the Orange receives a bid.

In his 40th season as head coach of the Orange, Jim Boeheim finds his team sitting on the NCAA bubble.

In his 40th season as head coach of the Orange, Jim Boeheim finds his team sitting  on the NCAA bubble.

One of these teams is Oregon State. The Beavers lost to California 76-68 in the PAC-12 tournament quarterfinals leaving them at 19-12. Oregon State, who went 9-9 in the PAC-12, won three of their last four in conference play. The Beavers split their regular season series with conference champion Oregon, Utah, and California who all finished in the top four of the final PAC-12 regular season standings. Their best win is against the Ducks who went 14-4 in the conference and 26-6 overall. As of press time, Oregon is still alive in the PAC-12 Tournament.

Other teams battling with Syracuse on the bubble include Monmouth (27-7, 17-3), Michigan (21-11, 10-8), Tulsa (20-10, 12-6), Connecticut (21-10, 11-7), Texas Southern (18-13, 16-2), St. Mary’s (27-5, 15-3), and Holy Cross (14-19, 5-13).

The fates of all these teams – along with that of Syracuse – are still to be determined with how they do in their postseason tournaments being a big factor. Yet, the committee will also be looking at their full body of work during the whole season. Where teams place in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) is always a big factor along with what a team’s record is against any top-25 teams that they faced during the season.

 

Some of the issues facing the committee will be projecting a team from a non-power conference into the field versus a team from a power conference that might have had a down or sub-par year but still has a decent overall resume like the Orange. How a team finishes the season is also looked at in addressing its’ whole body of work.

For example does a Monmouth team who gained national prominence this season behind head coach King Rice, the former North Carolina starter for the late Dean Smith, get an edge over the Orange who had a down but competitive year in a tougher and power conference in that of the Atlantic Coast Conference? Syracuse finished 19-12 in the regular season and went 9-9 in the ACC where they placed 10th. Monmouth lost to Iona 79-76 in the championship game of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament on March 7. The Hawks beat Notre Dame, Georgetown, UCLA, and USC this year. While perennial NCAA Tournament participants Georgetown (15-18, 7-11), UCLA (15-17, 6-12), and USC (21-12, 9-9) had down years, those are still positive wins for the lower profile Hawks. Read the rest of this entry →

Can the Golden State Warriors Reach 73 Victories? 0

Posted on March 10, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors are shouting out their claim for the best record in NBA histry.

Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors are shouting out their claim for the best record in NBA history.

With just 19 games left in the 2015-2016 season, the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors are on pace to break a record many thought was unbreakable, the 72 regular season victories of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

If the Warriors are to hit jackpot city and break the record, they will need to win 16 of their final 19 games. Considering that they have gone 17-2 in their most recent 19 games, it is certainly within reach.

After winning their first 24 games to start the season, the Warriors have endured an occasional lapse, but for the most part have been the most dominant team in the league. Though they were surprisingly stuffed last Sunday by the Los Angeles Lakers 112-95, they have rebounded with consecutive wins to get back on track.

Having raised his game to MVP level a year ago, Steph Curry has been even better this year raising his scoring average from 23.8 points per game to a league best 30.4 per contest. Considering that he has sat out the fourth quarter of many blowout wins, his average might have been even higher.

Providing a great second offensive punch is fifth-year forward Klay Thompson. Like Curry (son of Dell Curry), Thompson is the son of a former NBA star as his father, Mychal Thompson won two rings with the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s.

During the recent NBA All-Star Weekend, Thompson showed he could hold his own as he defeated Curry in the three-point shooting contest. He is averaging 21.8 points per game and would probably be considered the top three-point shooter in the league were it not for Curry.

Much was made of a recent outburst by power forward Draymond Green. However, it is Green’s feisty competitiveness that gives the Warriors a dynamic edge. Green is averaging 13.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game while anchoring the Golden State defense. Read the rest of this entry →

The Palestra: College Basketball’s Most Beloved Arena 3

Posted on February 01, 2016 by Mike Raffone

The Palestra

As the NCAA basketball season inches towards tournament time, allow me to highlight my favorite place on the planet to watch college hoops.

As Philadelphia’s most revered sports venue, the Palestra is appropriately called the Cathedral of College Basketball.

Recognized as the birthplace of college basketball, this hallowed arena opened its doors on the University of Pennsylvania campus on January 1, 1927. On that seminal day, Ivy League rivals Penn and Yale tipped off in what would become the first of thousands of games held in this building.

Named after an ancient Greek rectangular enclosure, the sparkling new facility was designed to house 8,722 spectators.

However, more than 10,000 excited fans crammed into the Palestra to witness Penn beat Yale 26 – 15 on its opening day.

Since then, the Palestra has hosted more NCAA college basketball games than any other arena in the country.

Beginning 1955, the Palestra has also served as the home court for the round robin of Big 5 college basketball games. Though not an official league or athletic conference, the Big 5 boasts five successful college basketball programs located within a 17 mile radius of center city Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Follow Us Online

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Sign up for Email Updates

    Sign-up to get daily updates of all the great articles and information on Sports Then and Now.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Affordable Satellite TV Great prices on Dish network packages.

  • Gear up for your next trip with new North Face Backpacks from SportsUnlimited.com. Shop great Field Hockey Sticks from Grays & Gryphon.

    Football Jerseys

  • SportsNation Pick!


    Sports Then and Now was very proud to be selected as ESPN's SportsNation Site of the Day on January 28, 2010! Click here to check out the video!
  • Weekly Poll

    Will Novak Djokovic Pass Roger Federer's Record of 17 Career Grand Slam Wins?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top