Fortier: Syracuse’s season is in critical condition

first_imgATLANTA — Jim Boeheim sat in the folding chair in the back corner of the visitor’s locker room, his right leg folded over his left and blankly examined the stat sheet in front of him.Everything had gone so wrong. On a night when his team had needed to be at its best, the Orange seemed further than it had all season from generating any half-court offense. Syracuse (15-7, 4-5 Atlantic Coast) lost, 55-51, to Georgia Tech (11-11, 4-5) on Wednesday night in a crushing blow to its postseason chances.Syracuse’s season is in critical condition.The way the Orange played in its GT loss combined with a lack of signature wins, a lack of road wins and an increasing lack of chances to earn either puts this team on the brink of missing the NCAA Tournament. Boeheim refuses to prognosticate on any season, which is fair enough, but his team now finds itself in a deep, deep hole without any margin for error.“Man, we’re not looking at it like that,” point guard Frank Howard said. “We’re competitors. This is what we come here for, for challenges like this. We want to prove ourselves.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“This is the ultimate test for us. We’ll be ready.”Consider the schedule.Syracuse probably needs to win four or five of its remaining nine games to make the NCAA Tournament. Kenpom.com gives the Orange a 50-50 shot or better in three of them, at home against Wake Forest and North Carolina State and on the road at Boston College.SU also needs to beat at least one of the six teams left on its schedule currently projected as “in” by Bracketville, the most accurate projection site in the past five years, because Syracuse has yet to beat a team in conference play that looks to be solidly in the NCAA Tournament. Bracketville has Syracuse listed in the “Next four out” category.Last year, the NCAA Tournament committee left out an 18-14 Syracuse team that upset three Top 10 teams down the stretch because it only mustered two road wins. This season, SU has two, but neither will impress the selection committee. Its only conference road victory came against Pittsburgh, the ACC’s worst team by far. Even that was a struggle; Syracuse didn’t pull away until late in the second half. This means the Orange needs to win at least one, though likely two, of its final four road games — Louisville, Miami, No. 4 Duke and Boston College — and the easiest target, BC, toppled then-No. 1 Duke on its home floor earlier this season.Yet no one in the locker room seems nervous. Especially not Tyus Battle.“We’ve got a tough Virginia team next, then we go to Louisville,” he said. “We’re going to get two really good wins.”Consider the offense.It encompasses three players who play almost every minute of every game. It relies on one-on-one dribble penetration. It operates without set plays — Boeheim said they wouldn’t make the shots off them if they got the looks anyway — and therefore it deploys a lot of high pick-and-rolls, which rarely results in a pass to the rolling big anyway.Syracuse, in conference play, has allowed totals of 51 and 55 and lost because offensive impotence overwhelmed elite defense. Boeheim called the GT loss a “classic example of that.” The reductive offense makes Syracuse predictable and allows opponents like Georgia Tech to shut off one aspect of the game and worry about little else.Yellow Jackets head coach Josh Pastner told his players Syracuse’s three scorers — Oshae Brissett, Howard and Battle — loved isolation plays and driving one-on-one. So, GT enacted a simple plan.“Every time (one of their players) drove, he’s seeing bodies,” GT wing Josh Okogie said. “We did a good job kind of stopping the drives. That’s half the battle.”Consider the roster.Syracuse needs a herculean effort and it has two guards. This team had a third until a practice injury sustained Monday sidelined freshman point guard Howard Washington for the year.The other players outside the three scorers have proven unable to carry the offensive load when their teammates are stifled. Geno Thorpe, the grad-transfer scoring guard Syracuse brought in at the beginning of the season who then quit, is currently tied for the Orange’s fourth-highest points per game (6.0) numbers this season.Now, Syracuse waits on forward Matt Moyer to return to his regular minutes after an ankle injury has limited him in the last week. It waits for forward Marek Dolezaj to find a balance between passing and scoring from the high post. It waits to see what it can expect from center Bourama Sidibe on a nightly basis to ease the load from starting big man Paschal Chukwu. It is a team waiting on a lot of things that cannot afford to wait on anything.“They played only about six guys,” Okogie said after the GT game. “It’s hard to win with just six guys, no matter who they are.”In the locker room after Wednesday’s loss, Battle sat in the chair in front of his locker with ice bags taped to both knees. When asked about the situation Syracuse finds itself in, Battle looked up and said, without hesitation, “I love it. It’s going to be tough, but you live for challenges like this, especially when you’re a competitor. I’m going to be ready for it.”Really, you love it?“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah. I really do.”Battle might not love how the season ends if Syracuse loses even one more game it shouldn’t. The Orange is not quite finished, not yet, but they’re way down in the hole.A comeback is possible, because it always is, but climbing out of this seems, at the very least, improbable.Sam Fortier is a senior staff writer for The Daily Orange where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at sjfortie@syr.edu or @Sam4TR.  Comments Published on February 2, 2018 at 12:12 pm Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

LeBron James to miss Warriors game Saturday due to ‘load management’

first_imgJames played his first game Thursday since suffering a groin strain Dec. 25 against the Warriors. While he scored 24 points with 14 rebounds and nine assists in an overtime win against the Clippers, he said afterward he was not close to 100 percent after missing 17 games.“The first quarter was just kind of a feel-out quarter to see how my groin would react,” James said. “I didn’t really run as hard as I’m accustomed to on breaks. I had a couple of drives, just trying to mentally get into it…. Related News “I’m not there all the way, as far as physically. My timing … is 80 percent right now, but it felt good to be 80 and be back on the floor and put on a Lakers’ uniform again.” LeBron James, Kevin Durant wear Colin Kaepernick jerseys to show support LeBron James will not play Saturday against the Warriors, according to Yahoo Sports.A source told the site the reason is “load management.” center_img Celtics have ‘little to no concern’ Kyrie Irving will leave for Lakers, report says The Lakers next play Tuesday at Indiana, their third of six straight road games. None of the remaining games after that, against Boston, Philadelphia and Atlanta, are back-to-back contests, which would be good if the Lakers are trying to ease James back in over the next week or so.But Los Angeles (27-25) clearly needs its superstar on the floor. While James sat out, the team went 6-11 and is now ninth in the Western Conference.last_img read more

England are crowned Boys’ Home International champions

first_img 2 August 2016 England roar back in Boys’ Home Internationals England roared back into the reckoning the Boys’ Home Internationals when they overturned a 3-2 deficit from the morning foursomes to defeat hosts Ireland 10-5 at Ballyliffin Golf Club in Donegal. England captain Derek Hughes couldn’t have asked for more from his side as they won the afternoon singles 8-2 against Ireland after threatening a whitewash at one stage. “We just had a chat with the boys at lunch about going out to play their best – and they did. What we impressed on them was to start positive and keep it that way. We felt they got a little bit careful in the foursomes,” said Hughes. The first day’s play featured persistent winds blew in from the Atlantic along with sporadic, heavy downpours as scoring well became a challenge on one of the most northerly courses in Ireland. Hughes added:  “What a golf course. As a golfer you have to enjoy this. Ok, you get the weather sometimes, but it’s a proper test of links golf.” England’s foursomes points were scored by the pairings of Matty Lamb (Hexham) and Oliver Clarke (Hillside) and by Charlie Strickland (Ham Manor) and Harry Goddard (Hanbury Manor). In the singles, Strickland coped well with the condition and led the way by defeating Ireland’s number one Thomas Mulligan 1up, helped by winning three holes in a row mid-round. He was followed by wins from Clarke, Goddard, John Gough (Stoke Park), Toby Briggs (Dunston Hall), Callum Farr (Priors Hall), Angus Flanagan (St George’s Hill) and Dan O’Loughlin (Ruddington Grange). Meanwhile, Scotland began the defence of their title with a 10½-4½ win against Wales. Scotland will now take on hosts Ireland, while England will meet Wales on day two at Ballyliffin. Click here for full scores 3 August 2016 England to play Scotland in title decider England will play defending champions Scotland in a title decider in tomorrow’s final day match of the Boys’  Home Internationals at Ballyliffin Golf Club in Donegal. Today, England beat Wales 10-5 while Scotland played hosts Ireland and came through with a 9-6 victory overall. It means both teams have 100 per cent records and the chance of overall victory, after Wales and Ireland both lost twice. For the second day, winds reaching 45 miles per hour and gusting, plus heavy downpours made playing conditions extremely difficult on the exposed Glashedy Links. However, the teams stuck to their task and despite the weather making club selection tricky and putting greens challenging, there was plenty of fine play. Derek Hughes’ England side, who have won this event on 14 occasions in the last 20 years, will be aiming to put last year’s defeat behind them. “I’m just hoping it’s a different result,” said Hughes. “I know the boys will give 110 per cent and I know it will be a good, it always is against Scotland. “The old rivalries come out, that’s what this is all about, but when it’s over everyone is friends again.” England’s continued undefeated passage was relatively smooth after coming through the foursomes 3.5-1.5 before sealing victory against Wales by winning the singles 6.5-3.5. Hughes was pleased with his top two players putting early points on the board. Charlie Strickland was rested for the foursomes but came out strong to deny Jacob Davies 4&3 in the top match, while Matty Lamb (pictured © Leaderboard Photography) defeated Rowan Warren 5&3. Wales’ Laurence Vargas, who was also rested for the foursomes, and enjoyed a 4&3 victory over Oliver Clarke, who was left to rue a couple of bad decisions in difficult conditions. There were also big wins for Callum Farr (6&5) and Carris Trophy winner Angus Flanagan (7&6) who enjoyed respective victories against Harry Frazer and Luke Harries. Undefeated John Gough halved his match against Wales’ Tomos Jones, securing the win for England, before Toby Briggs and Daniel O’Loughlin added further points. “I’m pleased how the boys battled and we got a good result in the end. It was a very good team performance,” added Hughes. Scotland won both the sessions against Ireland and one of their leading players, Jamie Stewart from Old Ranfurly, remains the only player to have played all four matches and retain a 100 per cent record. The final day gets underway from 8am with hosts Ireland against Wales before Scotland and England contest the deciding match. Click here for more information England were crowned the 2016 Boys’ Home International champions after a strong final day performance to defeat the holders Scotland 9-6 in the deciding match at Ballyliffin Golf Club in Donegal.  The win means Derek Hughes’ side regained the trophy they narrowly lost to the same opponents 12 months ago in Wales. “Everyone played their part this week and that’s very satisfying,” said the team captain. “It was a hard fought win, as it always is against Scotland. We always seem to have a good tight match and winning the foursomes 4-1 proved decisive.” England has now won the under-18 team event 15 times in the last 20 years. The foundations of England’s victory were laid in the morning foursomes when they took a 4-1 lead into lunch. In the top match Matty Lamb and Oliver Clarke set the tone with their 6&5 win over Jamie Stewart and Scottish Boys’ champion Eric McIntosh. Although Scotland’s Ben Ferguson and Rory Franssen responded quickly with a 3&2 win against Charlie Strickland and John Gough, England claimed the final three foursomes with wins from Toby Briggs and Dan O’Loughlin; Alex Fitzpatrick and Callum Farr; and Michael Gilbert and Harry Goddard. As the sun made its first appearance of the week, it meant Scotland required something special in the singles. All afternoon the scoreboard suggested the 2015 champions had an outside chance of overturning the foursomes deficit but it proved to be a bridge too far.   Strickland put in another leading performance in the top match to deny Stewart 4&2. Ferguson then demonstrated Scotland’s battling qualities in the second match. After being two down with eight to play he took Lamb to the 18th and won the final hole to secure a halved match. McIntosh defeated Gough 3&2 but Clarke responded for England with a narrow one-hole win over Franssen. Darren Howie then replied for Scotland with his one-hole win against Goddard, this year’s SE Group Junior Champion, illustrating the ebb and flow nature of the afternoon. Hughes’ side edged closer to the magic number when Briggs won 3&1 against Marc Watts, winner of this year’s Paul Lawrie Junior event. England secured the winning point when Farr was dormie two up on Sam Locke playing the 17th and halved the hole in par to win his match 2&1 and let the celebrations begin. In the lower order, English Boys’ Open Amateur Stroke Play champion Angus Flanagan halved with Graeme Greer, while Michael Lawrie, son of the 1999 Champion Golfer of the Year Paul, defeated Fitzpatrick, brother of European Tour player Matt, by one hole. Matthew McCulloch added a point for Scotland with his 5&3 win over O’Laughlin in the bottom match as the singles ended 5-5.   Scotland captain Scott Knowles said: “It was a tough afternoon, the boys really battled hard. Unfortunately we left ourselves too much to do after losing the foursomes 4-1. With nine holes to go we still had a chance, our boys threw everything at them but they held us off and congratulations to England.” In the day’s other match the hosts Ireland finished on a high by winning their singles matches 9-1 against Wales to turn the 3-2 foursomes deficit into an 11-4 win. Click here for full scores Next year England will defend their Boys Home Internationals title on home soil at St Annes Old Links in Lancashire. England team: Toby Briggs (Dunston Hall), Oliver Clarke (Hillside), Callum Farr (Priors Hall), Alex Fitzpatrick (Hallamshire), Angus Flanagan (St George’s Hill), Michael Gilbert (Chelmsford),  Harry Goddard (Hanbury Manor), John Gough (Stoke Park), Matty Lamb (Hexham), Dan O’Loughlin (Ruddington Grange), Charlie Strickland (Ham Manor). Caption: The winning England team at the 2016 Boys Home Internationals. (Image: The R&A)center_img 2 Aug 2016 England are crowned Boys’ Home International champions last_img read more

Steelers bounce back, drub Bills 23-10

first_imgPittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin yells during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won 23-10. (AP Photo/Don Wright)by Will GravesAP Sports WriterPITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Steelers spent three hours making Buffalo quarterback EJ Manuel look very much like the rookie he is.Old times for a defense that has looked just plain old recently?“No,” safety Ryan Clark said. “We used to be much better than that.“It was a good day, though.”A welcome one, too, in a 23-10 romp Sunday.A week after a historic blowout at the hands of the New England Patriots, the Steelers went back to basics, ones that rarely change for a franchise that rarely changes.Run the ball. Get after the quarterback. Play with some menace. The result was Pittsburgh’s most complete performance this season, one the Steelers (3-6) insist still contains some cause for optimism.“I think we went out there and answered the call today,” linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. “We played like we’re always supposed to.”The Bills managed just 227 total yards, nearly 400 less than the Patriots gained in a 55-31 whipping of Pittsburgh a week ago. That led to one of the more uncomfortable weeks in recent memory for a team accustomed to being near the top of the AFC North, not stuck at the bottom. The Steelers sacked Manuel three times and allowed Buffalo (3-7) to convert just 3 of 14 third downs.Manuel completed 22 of 39 passes for 155 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his return after missing a month with a sprained right knee. He declined to blame his issues on rust, though he hardly looked like the dynamic playmaker that made Buffalo look so intriguing in September.Battling a stiff breeze much of the day, Manuel struggled to find any rhythm against a defense smarting after giving up a franchise record for points and yards a week ago.“I felt good throughout the game,” Manuel said. “Obviously, there were plays that I missed, but I have to get better from there. The wind wasn’t a problem.”The Steelers, however, were another matter.Pittsburgh limited the Bills to 95 yards rushing – 50 below their season average – as Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson found little room to maneuver against a defense that came in ranked 31st in the league.There were no such issues for Pittsburgh.Ben Roethlisberger passed for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception and Le’Veon Bell added 96 total yards and a score as Pittsburgh snapped a two-game losing streak. The Steelers, who came into the game 28th in the league in rushing, rolled up 136 yards on the ground and controlled the ball for more than 35 minutes.“We came in from the get-go wanting to run the ball and establish the run,” Bell said. “Buffalo had no opportunities to get back in the game.”Even if it took awhile for the Steelers to establish their dominance.Roethlisberger had accuracy issues early. He underthrew Markus Wheaton on Pittsburgh’s opening drive. Jairus Byrd stepped in front and returned it 57 yards to the Pittsburgh 29.Led by Spiller and Jackson, the Bills made it all the way to the Pittsburgh 1. Rather than test a defense that has allowed the second-most TDs rushing in the NFL, Manuel lobbed pass toward the corner of the end zone that sailed well out of bounds. The Bills settled for a field goal and the Steelers had the confidence boost they needed.“We know we’re way better than what we did last week in New England,” Steelers rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “We had to come out and respond and keep responding.”Pittsburgh scored the game’s next 23 points, going in front to stay when Roethlisberger ended an 86-yard march by finding Jerricho Cotchery with a pretty 5-yard touchdown to make it 10-3 with 1:55 left in the first half.Any belief Buffalo had of rallying ended late in the third quarter. Roethlisberger connected with Brown for a 40-yard gain, and Shaun Suisham came on for a short field goal attempt. Buffalo jumped offside, and two plays later Bell used a block from tight end Mike Adams to give the Steelers’ their first 14-point lead at home this season.An interception and a 50-yard punt return by Brown helped Pittsburgh tack on two more Suisham field goals, allowing the Steelers to enjoy a brief respite from two months of frustration.NOTES: The Bills had four sacks, pushing their season total to 33, including a career-high five by DE Jerry Hughes. … Buffalo WR Stevie Johnson left with a groin injury and did not return. … Pittsburgh rookie S Shamarko Thomas left in the second quarter with an ankle injury did not return. G Ramon Foster also left with an ankle injury and did not return. … Bell’s 34-yard reception was the third longest by a Pittsburgh running back in the last seven years. … Cotchery has six touchdown receptions this season, tying his career high.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.orglast_img read more