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Sports Then and Now



Recent NCAA Tournament Bids Have Been Close Calls for the Syracuse Orange 0

Posted on March 18, 2021 by Chris Kent

Syracuse reached The Final Four in men’s basketball in 2016. Since then, the Orange have lived on the bubble annually in determining their NCAA Tournament fate. This year was no different as Syracuse had to sweat it out again on selection sunday. A collective sigh of relief for the players, coaches, and all of Orange Nation was released on Sunday March 14 when Syracuse drew the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region where they will meet No. 6 seed San Diego State on Friday March 19 at 9:40 pm in Butler University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Orange are 16-9 overall and 9-7 in the ACC where they finished eighth. San Diego State won the Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship as the top seed and is 23-4 overall, 14-3 in the MWC.

History has shown Syracuse plays some of its’ best basketball in the month of March.

Like recent seasons, Syracuse did just enough to garner an NCAA bid. This narrative was made more difficult in college basketball this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic which caused games to be cancelled or shuffled around due to positive tests within programs. Not all the cancelled games were able to be rescheduled. Depending on who the cancelled games were against, some teams missed out on competing for quad one wins. Although Louisville did not make the NCAA field, the Orange missed two games against the Cardinals (13-7, 8-5) and its’ only game against Florida State (16-6, 11-4) this season. Both those schools stood above Syracuse in the ACC standings throughout the season and Florida State reached the ACC Tournament Championship game. That put pressure on the Orange late in the season. After losing at Georgia Tech on Feb. 27, Syracuse ended the regular season with two straight wins over North Carolina and Clemson, both of which made the field of 68 and finished ahead of the Orange in the final ACC standings. Syracuse added on a solid win over North Carolina State in the second round of the ACC Tournament before a 3-pointer at the buzzer ended their chance to upset top-seeded Virginia in the quarterfinals. The Orange had to wait it out over three days and ultimately got in.

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Avoid Sports Withdrawals: Vintage Final Four Action on YouTube 2

Posted on April 04, 2020 by Dean Hybl

Given how much things have changed in just the last three weeks, it seems hard to believe that if it were not for the global pandemic we would be preparing this weekend to watch the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Final Four and Championship Games.

Though it has only been a few weeks, the 2019-2020 college basketball season seems like a distant memory. The excitement over which teams were on the bubble and who would be the top seeds seeming to be part of a long ago time.

It may seem hard to imagine right now, but I have great confidence that next year we will be back to enjoying March Madness and all the drama and excitement of college sports.

However, for right now in our time of social distancing and staying at home, we are fortunate that YouTube provides us with access to a plethora of vintage sporting events that can help pass the time before live sports return.

In part three of a multi-part series, Sports Then and Now has selected ten college basketball Final Four and Championship games that include some of the all-time moments and players in college basketball history. In the first two parts we shared great conference tournament games and early round NCAA Tournament action.

In this edition, we have chosen Final Four and Championship Games that include some of the iconic moments, teams and players in NCAA history. For each one we have included the records, rankings, coaches and notable players at the time of the game, but are not spoiling the game with a summary in case you don’t remember the outcome and want to enjoy the moment without spoilers.

Among the players you can check out during their college days are all-time greats Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Bill Walton, David Thompson, Michael Jordan, Walter Davis, James Worthy, Grant Hill, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Christian Laettner, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing and many more.

There are certainly other great games to watch on YouTube, but we have chosen these party because the entire game is available on YouTube and the game epitomized the excitement of March Madness.

Enjoy!

1979 NCAA Championship Game – Indiana State vs. Michigan State

Records Entering Game: Indiana State: 33-0; Michigan State: 25-6

National Ranking: Indiana State #1; Michigan State: #3

Coaches: Indiana State: Bill Hodges; Michigan State: Jud Heathcote

Notable Players: Indiana State: Larry Bird, Carl Nicks, Alex Gilbert, Bob Heaton; Michigan State: Magic Johnson, Greg Kelser, Terry Donnelly

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Avoid Sports Withdrawals: Vintage College Basketball Games to Watch on YouTube 2

Posted on March 14, 2020 by Dean Hybl

With March Madness cancelled, the entire sports world on pause and many public gatherings and places across the country and globe closed due to the COVID-19 virus, there are only so many shows on Hulu, Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming channels that we can watch before sports withdrawals are surely to kick in.

Fortunately, YouTube is home to a plethora of vintage sporting events that can help pass the time before live sports return.

In part 1 of a multi-part series, Sports Then and Now has selected 10 vintage conference tournament games that include some of the all-time moments and players in college basketball history. For each one we have included the records, rankings, coaches and notable players at the time of the game, but are not spoiling the game with a summary in case you don’t remember the outcome and want to enjoy the moment without spoilers.

Ray Allen led Connecticut against Georgetown and Allen Iverson in the 1996 Big East Tournament Finals.

The fun part about watching vintage games is that it includes the original announcers, as well as showcasing some players who went on to greatness often before they had become household names, or as they were building their reputation. Players like Patrick Ewing, Ray Allen, Allen Iverson, Ralph Sampson, Tim Duncan, Jerry Stackhouse and many more are included in our selections.

There are certainly other great games to watch on YouTube, but we have chosen these partly because the entire game is available and the game epitomized the excitement of March Madness.

Enjoy!

1983 ACC Tournament Championship Game – Virginia vs. North Carolina State

Records Entering Game: Virginia 27-3; North Carolina State: 19-10

National Ranking: Virginia #2; North Carolina State unranked

Coaches: UVA: Terry Holland; North Carolina State: Jim Valvano

Notable Players: UVA – Ralph Sampson, Othell Wilson, Ricky Stokes, Rick Carlisle; NC State – Thurl Bailey, Sidney Lowe, Lorenzo Charles, Dereck Whittenburg, Terry Gannon

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Syracuse and Baylor To Meet in 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament 0

Posted on March 21, 2019 by Chris Kent
Syracuse is the No. 8 seed in the west region.

The Syracuse University men’s basketball team is headed to the 2019 NCAA Tournament and will meet Baylor University in a first round game in the west region on Thursday March 21. Tip-off is set for approximately 9:57 pm EST from the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, UT. It is the second straight trip to the Big Dance for the Orange, marking the first time Syracuse has made back-to-back trips to the tournament since 2013 and 2014.

Baylor is the No. 9 seed in the west region.

The Orange drew the No. 8 seed while the Bears are the No. 9 seed. Baylor finished 19-13 and placed fourth in the Big 12 at 10-8 while Syracuse is 20-13 and finished sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 10-8. By the time this game tips off, it will have been three weeks and a day since the Bears’ last victory which came on Feb. 27, an 84-83 home win over Texas. Baylor was one and done in the Big 12 Tournament last week in Kansas City, MO where it lost 83-66 to Iowa State in the quarterfinals, its’ fourth straight loss.

The Bears went 7-7 against teams that qualified for this year’s NCAA Tournament with wins over the likes of Oregon and Texas Tech. Baylor also swept Big 12 foes Iowa State and Oklahoma in Big 12 regular season play. After losing their season opener to Texas Southern the Bears won three straight before losing to Mississippi in the Emerald Coast Classic on Nov. 23. Baylor went 3-2 over its’ next five games before beating Oregon at home 57-47 on Dec. 21. After opening Big 12 play 1-2, the Bears won six in a row before suffering back-to-back losses to Texas and Kansas State. Baylor rebounded with four wins in its’ next five games before dropping its’ last three regular season games.

Tyus Battle scored a season high 32 points in Syracuse’s win at Duke on Jan. 14.

Meanwhile, the Orange have dropped two of their last three games. Syracuse went 1-1 in the ACC Tournament last week in Charlotte, NC where it beat Pittsburgh in the second round before falling in the quarterfinals to Duke which went on to win the tournament title. The Orange had a solid regular season in which they were highly challenged down the stretch. Syracuse faced four teams that finished in the top seven of the final regular season conference standings in their last six games, going only 2-4. The losses were to Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, and Clemson while the victories came over Louisville and Wake Forest. Despite losing to three teams that went on to secure No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament (Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina), the Orange were still competitive in all those games. The major victory for Syracuse this season was a 95-91 win in overtime at No. 1 Duke on Jan. 14. That victory was sorely needed as the Orange had come off a 73-59 home loss to Georgia Tech just two days prior.

Syracuse opened the season 2-0 before suffering back-to-back losses to Connecticut and Oregon in the 2K Classic on Nov. 15 and 16. The Orange rebounded with a five-game winning streak which included a 72-62 win at Ohio State in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge on Nov. 28. Home losses to Old Dominion and Buffalo made the postseason projection for Syracuse more difficult at the time before the later wins over Duke and Louisville put them on safe ground for an NCAA at large bid. The team from upstate New York was 5-8 against teams that made this year’s NCAA field of 68.

The Orange and Bears have met only twice before with Syracuse holding a 2-0 edge. They last met in the championship game of the Maui Invitational in 2013 when the Orange won 74-67. Syracuse also won 94-71 during the 2006-07 season.

The Orange will get a boost against Baylor with the return of junior shooting guard Tyus Battle who sat out the ACC Tournament due to a back injury he sustained in the regular season finale at Clemson on March 9. Battle, an All-ACC Third Team selection this season, leads Syracuse in scoring and ranks sixth in the ACC with 17.2 points per-game. Battle has scored in double figures 27 times this season which includes 14 20-point outings and a pair of 30-point games. Battle, who was also named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-District II team on March 12, is second on the team with 77 assists and leads the team in minutes played per-game at 36.3. Senior point guard Frank Howard steadies the ship for the Orange with 8.9 ppg and dishes out a team best 2.9 assists per-game. However that production will not be available for Syracuse as it was reported late afternoon on March 20 via News Channel 9 in Syracuse, NY that Howard will not play against Baylor and has been ruled out of the NCAA Tournament for an indefinite period due to violation of an unspecified athletic department policy. Boeheim will likely replace Howard in the starting lineup.

Oshae Brissett maneuvers inside looking to get to the basket.

Sophomore forward Oshae Brissett and junior forward Elijah Hughes are productive players on the wings for the Orange. Brissett grabs a team best 7.5 rebounds per-game while Hughes has converted a team-high 81 3-pointers and shoots 36.0 percent from behind the arc. Hughes and Brissett both average double figures in scoring with 13.4 and 12.4 ppg respectively. Senior center Paschal Chukwu grabs 5.4 rpg, chips in 4.3 ppg, and leads the team with 1.8 blocks per-game.

Orange head coach Jim Boeheim, in his 43rd year at the helm of his alma mater, typically has played just seven to eight players meaning a mostly short bench during his career. This year he has a little more flexibility with four players he can bring off the bench. This includes his son, 6-5 freshman guard Jackson Thomas “Buddy” Boeheim who adds scoring punch as a 3-point threat. The younger Boeheim, who started the two ACC Tournament games in place of the injured Battle, has shot 47-for-129 on the season from the 3-point line, good for 36.4 percent. He averages 6.9 ppg. Freshman guard Jalen Carey, along with sophomore forwards Marek Dolezaj and Bourama Sidibe are the other reserves for coach Boeheim. Dolezaj is a smart and efficient player who contributes 4.1 ppg and 3.6 rpg.

Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone defense is again a major factor this season with the length of their guards and forwards to go with the 7-2 Chukwu who is the tallest player ever in Orange history. Howard and Battle go 6-5 and 6-6 on top of the zone at the guard positions while Brissett and Hughes add length at 6-8 and 6-6 respectively on the wings. This height and reach allow the zone to be effective with a better chance for deflecting passes and shots. This can lead to turnovers enabling Syracuse to get out in transition and covert easy buckets. The Orange shoot 42.4 percent on the season and holds its’ opponents to just under 40 percent at 39.7. Syracuse also has a +3.2 turnover margin and force 1.7 more steals per game than their opponents.

Makai Mason looks to get off a shot on a drive to the basket.

The Bears counter with redshirt senior guard Makai Mason, a transfer from Yale of the Ivy League, who leads Baylor with 14.6 ppg. Redshirt sophomore Mario Kegler, who goes 6-7 and 230, is listed at guard and forward and averages 10.7 ppg along with 6.0 rpg. Mark Vital, a 6-5 redshirt sophomore guard/forward adds 7.0 ppg and leads the team with 7.2 rpg. Baylor also gets 10.1 ppg from freshman guard Jared Butler. Senior guard King McClure scores 8.7 ppg.

Both teams are similar in profile with their statistical production spread over several players giving them balance. They each went 10-8 in two of the top conferences in the country. They each had a rough ending to the regular season with multiple losses before short stays in their postseason conference tournaments. The Orange are a 20-game winner while the Bears have won 19, a sign of Syracuse getting the higher seed in this 8 vs. 9 matchup. A competitive game should be in store with the winner advancing to the second round on Saturday March 23 where the Gonzaga Bulldogs – the region’s No. 1 seed – will likely be awaiting.

Mike Gminski: Four-Year Duke Star 0

Posted on March 10, 2018 by Dean Hybl

Mike Gminski

Mike Gminski

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a star big man who achieved great success at Camden Indoor Stadium in the era before Coach K and the One-and-Done big men became the norm at Duke University.

Much like recent Duke big men Marvin Bagley III, Jayson Tatum and Jahlil Okafor, Mike Gminski made an immediate impact for the Blue Devils. However, because he played 40 years earlier at a time when few players left college early, Gminski spent four years racking up stats and success in Durham. 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 →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Al Bumbry: From Bronze Star to AL Rookie of the Year
      May 31, 2021 | 2:21 pm

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month won a Bronze Star in Vietnam before going on to win American League Rookie of the Year honors and playing 14 seasons in the Major Leagues.

      Though only 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, Al Bumbry was a four-year basketball player at Virginia State College (now University). The school restarted its baseball program during his career and Bumbry hit .578 during his senior season to earn notice from the Baltimore Orioles, who picked him in the 11th round of the MLB Draft.

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