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Classic Rewind: Reliving the Six Overtime Marathon Between Syracuse and Connecticut in the 2009 Big East Tournament. 0

Posted on March 15, 2019 by Chris Kent

It was one of the most entertaining games in the history of college basketball. The six overtime marathon of a battle between Syracuse and Connecticut in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Big East Tournament was for starters, thrilling. Adjectives are never ending in describing it. Phenomenal. Amazing. Exhausting. Climactic.

Syracuse players celebrate their thrilling six-overtime victory over Connecticut in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Big East Tournament on March 12 and 13.

Filled with the suspense and drama on when, not to mention if, the game would ever end, it was equally as attractive for  being a marquee matchup of two longtime Big East rivals lead by prestigious head coaches in Jim Boeheim of the Orange and Jim Calhoun of the Huskies. The glamour and glitz of New York City added to this game as the school’s dueled on the national stage of Madison Square Garden, known as the world’s most famous arena. Both teams were ranked in the AP Poll with Connecticut at No. 3 and Syracuse at No. 18. The sixth-seeded Orange and the third-seeded Huskies were also meeting for the fourth time in the last five seasons in the Big East Tournament with Syracuse having won the prior three matchups from 2005 through ’07.

In playing the longest ever game in the shot clock era, Syracuse and Connecticut tied for the second longest game in the history of NCAA Division I college basketball. Only two other games have ever gone six overtimes. Both those happened in the 1950’s when Minnesota beat Purdue 59-56 in 1955 and Niagara beat Siena 88-81 in 1953. The game was eclipsed in number of overtimes only by a game on Dec. 21, 1981 when Cincinnati beat Bradley 75-73 in seven overtimes. That game in 1981 tied for the most overtimes in the history of college basketball regardless of NCAA classification.

However overtime almost never happened for the Orange and Huskies.

Connecticut freshman guard Kemba Walker’s offensive rebound and layup with 1.1 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 71. Following a Syracuse timeout, Orange junior guard Eric Devendorf gathered a long inbounds pass off a deflection and quickly got off a 3-point shot that went in giving the Orange an apparent victory. However replays showed that the ball was still contacting Devendorf’s fingertips as the buzzer sounded and the basket was waived off by officials and the game went into overtime.

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William & Mary Reminds Us That College Basketball is Really a Business 0

Posted on March 13, 2019 by Dean Hybl
In 16 seasons as men’s basketball coach at William & Mary, Tony Shaver won more games than were won in the 20 seasons prior to his arrival.

It seems like a day doesn’t go by this time of year without another reminder that college athletics is really a major business that likes to pretend it is something more noble and altruistic.

Full disclosure that today’s example is a bit personal and especially frustrating for me because it involves a former colleague who has spent his entire career representing all the positive attributes that college sports supposedly are about.

After 16 years of success that is unparalleled in the history of William & Mary men’s basketball, the college has decided to part ways with 65-year-old head coach Tony Shaver.

In a statement, Athletic Director Samantha Huge said that “We have high expectations for our men’s basketball program, including participating in the NCAA tournament, and we will not shy away from setting the bar high. Now is the time to begin a new chapter in William & Mary basketball.”

That sounds all well and good, but what Huge seems to not understand is that prior to the arrival of Shaver, “high expectations” for the men’s basketball program basically meant double-digit victories every few years.

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How Fashion Has Taken Over the NBA 0

Posted on February 04, 2019 by Scott Huntington

Perhaps no sport is more associated with fashion than the NBA. The competition among players to dress the best is fierce, and it’s become a big part of the news cycle surrounding the league.

Players receive a lot of chances to flaunt their fashion choices. The most notable is the pre-game walk through the tunnel. Traveling to and from games, press conferences and other events provide opportunities as well.

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Over the last few decades though, the story of the NBA and fashion has moved beyond just pre-game and press conference outfits. Players such as Russell Westbrook and James Harden make regular appearances at world-famous fashion shows and on the covers of style magazines. Many players also have their own fashion lines and brand collaborations. Westbrook even wrote a book, titled Style Drivers, about his relationship with fashion.

In 2017, the NBA officially recognized the importance of fashion for the league by introducing the NBA Style Award, which the league gave out alongside awards for most valuable player and rookie of the year. Westbrook took home first place, followed by Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert and Chicago’s Dwyane Wade. Read the rest of this entry →

Iron Man Randy Smith 0

Posted on February 02, 2019 by Dean Hybl

Randy Smith-BravesThe Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month may have had a pretty common name, but his iron man streak as an NBA player was anything but ordinary.

In a streak that lasted more than a decade, Randy Smith played in 906 consecutive NBA games to establish an NBA iron man record that lasted more than a decade.

That Smith made it to the NBA at all was somewhat of an underdog story.

A three-sport standout at Bellsport High School in Long Island (basketball, soccer and track), Smith also was a three-sport All-American at Division II Buffalo State College. He helped lead the Bengals to three straight basketball conference championships and a spot in the 1970 Division II Final Four. Read the rest of this entry →

Syracuse Rallies for Big Win at Duke 0

Posted on January 16, 2019 by Chris Kent

Committing three turnovers, four fouls, and shooting 0-for-3 including one missed layup – all which cause the head coach to make three substitutions over the first 3:02 of the game – is not a recipe for a win, especially against the number one team in the country on its’ home court. Add in the fact that you trail 12-0 before scoring your first point of the game and two of your team fouls are on your starting senior point guard who does not score in the first half, and you have even more of a hole to dig out of. However that is exactly what Syracuse did in a thrilling 95-91 road victory over No. 1 Duke on Monday Jan. 14 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC. It was the first victory for the Orange over a No. 1 ranked team since Jan. 19, 2013 when it won at Louisville, 70-68.

Tyus Battle elevates for a breakaway dunk during Monday’s thrilling overtime victory over No. 1 Duke.

Junior shooting guard Tyus Battle lead the Orange (12-5, 3-1) with 32 points and had four assists while junior forward Elijah Hughes shot 4-for-9 on three-pointers en route to 20 points and grabbed five rebounds. Senior center Paschal Chukwu added a career-high 18 rebounds and scored 10 points. Battle’s 32 points represented the most points ever scored by a Syracuse player against the Blue Devils. Duke (14-2, 3-1) was lead by freshman forward Zion Williamson who had a career high 35 points and 10 rebounds while freshman forward RJ Barrett fell one assist short of a triple double with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and 9 assists. Williamson’s 35 points were the most ever by a Blue Devil freshman in a single game.

The Orange were coming off a sluggish performance in a 73-59 home loss to Georgia Tech just 48 hours earlier on Jan. 12 in which they had their worst shooting performance of the season  (18-for-57, .316) in dropping their first Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season. However all that was short lived as Syracuse made a quick turnaround to notch a marquee win. Meanwhile, Duke was coming off a thrilling 80-78 win at Florida State on Jan. 12, secured by a late three-pointer by freshman Cam Reddish with 0.8 seconds left to play.

Against the Orange, The Blue Devils assumed control early with a 12-0 lead three minutes into the game. However that would be the largest margin for either side the whole game. Although Reddish did not play at all and Duke starting point guard Tre Jones did not return to the game after suffering a shoulder injury while diving for a loose ball at the 14:23 mark of the first half, Syracuse still faced a major challenge. The Orange soon found its’ rhythm behind the play of Battle and Hughes who literally shot Syracuse back into the game. The Orange mounted a 17-6 run over the next five minutes to pull within one at 18-17. Battle and Hughes accounted for all of those points with Battle netting 12 and Hughes adding five. Each of them hit one three-pointer during the run. While the Blue Devils would push their lead to as many as six at the midway point of the first half, Syracuse would stay close. A 5-0 Orange run on a Hughes three and two free throws by Battle forced the game’s first tie at 29 with 6:38 left in the first half. A Battle free throw gave Syracuse its’ first lead of the game at 34-33 with 5:12 left. The teams would exchange leads over the last five minutes of the half which ended with Hughes converting a three-pointer on a three quarter court heave that beat the halftime buzzer bringing Syracuse to within one, 49-48. Read the rest of this entry →

Are the Toronto Raptors the NBA Title Favorites? 0

Posted on December 14, 2018 by Dean Hybl

Kawhi Leonard is averaging a career-high 26 points per game for the Toronto Raptors.

Kawhi Leonard is averaging a career-high 26 points per game for the Toronto Raptors.

When the Toronto Raptors made the blockbuster trade during the summer to bring Kawhi Leonard to the Eastern Conference there was an expectation that it could help them “get over the hump” after getting close in recent years, but even live betting with Novibet couldn’t have predicted that a quarter way through the NBA season they would be the favorites to claim the 2019 NBA Championship.

Not only do the Raptors have a league-best 23-7 overall record, but they have swept the season series from the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. Their 113-93 win at Golden State earlier this week was impressive not just because of the dominant nature, but because the Raptors played the game without Leonard while the Warriors were at full strength with their four All-Stars all in the starting lineup.

With Leonard, who is averaging a team-best 26 points per game, out of the lineup, the Raptors had a balanced attack that proved too much for the Warriors to overcome.

Leading the way for the Raptors was four-time All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. He scored a team-high 23 points while also dishing out 12 assists, grabbing five rebounds and securing three steals.

Another player who has been great all season and continued that trend against the Warriors was center Serge Ibalka. The 10-year veteran is averaging a career-high 16.8 points per game this season and had 20 points with 12 rebounds in the victory.

The other three starters, Danny Green, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, scored 15, 13 and 10 points respectively to give the Raptors five double-digit scorers. The bench also played an important role with 32 points divided amongst six players.

That boxscore is consistent with how the Raptors have been winning throughout the season.

They have five players who are averaging at least 12.8 points per contest and then another six averaging between 5.0 and 9.6 per contest. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Tony Oliva: Hall of Fame Worthy
      April 21, 2019 | 5:18 pm
      Tony Oliva

      Cuba is known for producing great baseball talent and there has arguably been no one from the island better than the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

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