Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Orange

Another enjoyable evening watching the Syracuse Orangemen.  And another example of why sports are so engaging.

Undefeated Syracuse visited Pittsburgh last night. Pittsburgh was ahead the entire contest playing a very smart patient game.  Syracuse stayed with its zone as it always does.  Pittsburgh waited it out and toward the end of each 35 second clock launched a three and, until the end, made a high percentage of them.

Down by 8 with only a few minutes left, the Orange came back shaving the lead until they were down by only one. Pittsburgh's methodical offense had begun to break down unable to penetrate the impenetrable zone of Syracuse. Up by one, Pittsburgh passed the ball around the perimeter and then lost it.  A freshman named Tyler Ennis drove to the hoop with the lost ball and was fouled as he attempted to score the go-ahead basket.  With ten seconds to go the freshman hit both foul shots and Syracuse was ahead.

Pittsburgh had ten seconds to remedy the deficit.  With 4.4 seconds to go a Panther was fouled.  He, too, cool as the other side of your pillow went to the line and hit both foul shots putting Pittsburgh up by one. It looked as if Syracuse's 23 game winning streak and undefeated season were going to end.  However, the Orange gave the ball to the freshmen Ennis who drove past mid court and heaved up a desperation shot.

It went in. And Syracuse announcers went bonkers, the players joyfully erupted, the Pittsburgh coach remained in a crouched position staring ahead in stunned disbelief, and the Panther players stood frozen like inanimate statues on an obstacle course.

Earlier this year Syracuse beat Duke in an overtime contest that also was the stuff of excellent theatre and sport.

Syracuse will not win the national championship. They just do not have the horses. They play a great zone, have the fearless freshman, have a shooter who if left open is a guaranteed three, and a senior in C.J. Fair who seems to make clutch baskets in each game that is close.  All this said, they do not have the athletes to compare with some teams.

If you don't think that sport generates excitement, take a trip to Marshall Street in Syracuse some day after the Orange have played.  Then talk to me.

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