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Syracuse Seeks Victories as ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Takes Place in Nations Capital This Week 1

Posted on March 12, 2024 by Chris Kent
Capital One Arena in Washington, DC is the host site for the 2024 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament this week.

The regular season is over and now it is time to win or go home as Championship Week in college basketball is here. Syracuse heads to the 2024 Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament this week in Washington, DC with work to do to secure an NCAA Tournament bid. How the Orange fare in the ACC Tournament combined with what happens around the country in all the postseason conference tournaments this week will impact whether or not Syracuse gets an NCAA bid.

The Orange are trending in the right direction as they have been playing their best basketball of the season over the last month. Syracuse went 5-2 in its’ last seven regular season games. Included was an 86-79 home win over then No. 7 ranked North Carolina on Feb. 13 and a quality 87-83 road win at North Carolina State a week later on Feb. 20. The win over North Carolina started the seven-game closing surge and marked the first time the Orange beat a top-10 team since a 95-91 overtime win at No. 1 Duke on Jan, 14, 2019. Although a loss at Georgia Tech followed, Syracuse won its’ next four games to have a shot at getting a double bye in this week’s conference tournament. However the Orange fell out of that scenario and ultimately earned the seventh seed and a first-round bye in this week’s tournament. Syracuse will play on Wed. March 13 at 7 pm in the second round against the winner of Tuesday’s opening round game between 10-seed North Carolina State and 15-seed Louisville. Should the Orange win its’ second round game they would advance to play Duke, the No, 2 seed, in the quarterfinals on Thursday March 14 at 7 pm.

Syracuse head coach Adrian Autry succeeded the legendary Jim Boeheim and has guided the Orange to a 20-win season in this his first season as head coach.

In a year of transition for the Orange program following the retirement of hall-of-fame head coach Jim Boeheim, who spent 47 years at the helm, first-year head coach Adrian Autry has stepped in nicely as Boeheim’s successor. Autry has guided Syracuse to its’ first 20-win season since the 2018-19 season when it finished 20-14 overall and 10-8 in the ACC. Following the legendary Boeheim, who he played for and worked for both as assistant coach and associate head coach, Autry has done a commendable job this year in taking over the program. Autry has lead the Orange to a 20-11 mark thus far and finished with a winning record in the competitive ACC at 11-9. Two wins this season over a good and rugged Pittsburgh team, the No. 4 seed in this week’s ACC Tournament, the road one being a quad one win, help Syracuse’s chances for making the NCAA field. The NCAA selections will be announced this coming Sunday, March 17 on CBS.

The Orange will be out to surprise and make some history this week by making a run toward the ACC Tournament Championship game, something they have never appeared in. The furthest Syracuse has ever gone in the ACC Tournament is the quarterfinals where they are 0-4 (not counting 2020 when they advanced to the quarterfinals to play Louisville only to have that game and the rest of the ACC tournament be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The Orange have never played more than two games in an ACC Tournament and they have an all-time record of 5-8 in the event. Syracuse is in its’ 11th season as an ACC member having officially joined the conference in the summer of 2013.

Guard Judah Mintz excels at driving to the basket to score and finding open teammates.

Lead by a group of six productive sophomores, the Orange are a young team. Sophomore guard Judah Mintz was just named to the All-ACC Second Team and leads Syracuse in scoring and assists with 18.7 points per game and 4.5 assists per game. His 4.5 apg and 2.10 steals per game were both third best in the ACC this season. Maliq Brown, another sophomore, became the first center in ACC history to lead the conference in steals per game at 2.23 en route to being named to the All-ACC Defensive Team. Brown shoots a team-best 69.3 percent from the field, mostly on the interior. Brown was inserted into the starting lineup in early January after 7-4 center Naheem McLeod – a transfer from Florida State – was lost for the season due to an injury. Brown has picked up the slack left by McLeod in the middle as he is scoring 9.5 ppg and leads the Orange with 7.0 rebounds per game.

Syracuse gets most of its’ outside shooting and scoring from sophomores Chris Bell, J.J. Starling, and Justin Taylor. Bell is the best and most reliable 3-point shooter on the team as he converts at a team-best 41.5 percent clip from behind the arc. Bell made eight 3-pointers in a win at North Carolina State this season, one short of tying the single-game school record. Starling and Taylor are also threats from beyond the arc along with Mintz.
Bell, Starling, and Taylor have been mainstays with each starting all 31 games this season. Bell scores 12.0 ppg and has made a team best 81 3-pointers on the season. Starling counters with 13.5 ppg while Taylor scores 5.1 ppg. Starling shoots 46.0 percent from the field and his ability to penetrate and find teammates helps in the halfcourt. Taylor shoots 35.7 percent from the field and has made 25 3-pointers this season.

Quadir Copeland brings versatility and athleticism off the bench for the Orange and scores in a variety of ways.

The Orange are at their best when they are able to run, score in transition, and create steals to generate scoring opportunities. Mintz is the catalyst for that style of play as he can get to the rim and create scoring opportunities for others. While Syracuse can execute in the half court, they can go stale in that mode if their shots are not falling and they don’t get rebounds. Helping to combat that is the play of Quadir Copeland, another sophomore and a key reserve. Copeland brings energy and creativity with his passing and athletic ability. After playing in 20 games as a freshman, he has played in all 31 games this season and been a big contributor. As a freshman, Copeland averaged 2.1 ppg., 1.6 rpg., 0.5 apg., and 0.5 steals per game while playing in 20 games during which he shot 34.1 percent from the field. Copeland has improved upon all those averages this season while playing in all 31 games to date. He has per game averages of 9.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 steals. In addition, Copeland is shooting 48.1 percent from the field, a big improvement from a year ago which has given balance to the Orange offense. Copeland’s play came to the forefront this season on Jan. 20 when he drained a 3-pointer as time expired lifting Syracuse to a 72-69 home win over Miami.

More clutch play like that might be needed by Copeland and the Orange this week if they are to have a long stay in the ACC Tournament. A recent projection by NCAA bracketologist Joe Lunardi had Syracuse listed as a team that was being considered for an NCAA bid. The strength of the Orange resume is highlighted by their two wins each over Pittsburgh and North Carolina State along with the big win over North Carolina. Syracuse also has a neutral site win over Oregon. However the Orange missed opportunities for strengthening their resume with losses to both Tennessee and Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational back in November. Tennessee was ranked No. 7 and Gonzaga No. 11 in the AP poll at the time of those games. If Syracuse is to move onto solid ground, it will have to land some wins this week and hope that the results of other teams they are competing with for NCAA spots work to their advantage. The game results of the Orange and those of many other teams across the country this week will have much to do in determining the fate of Syracuse.

Syracuse and Duke Clash Again 0

Posted on February 26, 2022 by Chris Kent

Syracuse versus Duke.

Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim and Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski shake hands at half court before a game at the Carrier Dome. Together, the two have totaled over 2,000 victories during their hall-of-fame careers.

Coaching legends, hall-of-famers, and close friends in Jim Boeheim of the Orange and Mike Krzyzewski of the Blue Devils. The duo are the two winningest coaches in college basketball history and are coaching royalty. Cameron Crazzies and record-setting Carrier Dome crowds. Plain and simple it is must see television.

For nearly a decade the matchup has been a featured attraction in the Atlantic Coast Conference and all of college basketball. The sport welcomed the annual clash of titans when Syracuse joined the ACC in 2013. Since then this matchup has been nothing short of brilliant.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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