The game vs. the Syracuse Orange is one of my favorite every year. In addition to being one of our biggest rivals, and now one of the most well-attended games in history every time we go to The Carrier Dome, I get to interact with the Syracuse bloggers, who quite frankly some of the best on the net.
We're going to have 2 editions of Behind Enemy Lines this today, with the first being with of Orange::44. Brian was one of the first bloggers I interacted with way back when I first started my blog. Below is are my questions to Brian and his answers - be sure to head over to his blog and check my answers to his questions!
Paul Harris was playing for the Maine Red Claws, the D-League team for the Boston Celtics. But he, just this past week, signed a deal to play in the Philippines for the (and I’m serious) Talk N Text Tropang Texters. Yeah, that’s apparently a thing. This is actually a good opportunity for Harris as he will be playing 40-48 minutes a night as supposed to around 24, and he should be making some money to support his family.
Eric Devendorf was playing in New Zealand and his team actually won the country’s championship. After that he was shipped off to Melbourne Australia to play for the Melbourne Tigers, where he still is. He’s actually a consistent leading scorer for the clubs he’s on. He should continue to be successful if he stays out of trouble. PS – he still never hit that girl. The District Attorney proved it.
More banter with the 'Cuse guy after The Jump.
We're all laughing at the down year the BIG EAST was supposed to have - is this the toughest year for the league that you can remember since it expanded?
I don’t know who those idiots were that said just because Scottie Reynolds and Wes Johnson left the league was going to have a down year, but they are, in fact, idiots. The Big East has consistently been the best league in the last three to four years and is currently the best league this year. They are poised to get a record nine or ten teams in the NCAA Tournament, and that is a very real possibility. This is probably the toughest year for the league. There are at least six or seven really good teams, and another six or seven that are very good. The bottom teams could even give other leagues a run. This is a very good league and if anyone thinks that will stop in the near future they don’t know college basketball very well.
Will Kris Joseph play on Saturday, and how will he be affected by the head injury, which apparently is not a concussion?
Yeah, no source has ever listed it as a concussion. I’m not sure if it is or isn’t, but I do think he will play on Saturday. And if he plays there will be no difference in the game because of any head injury. He continually says he is playing on Twitter, but we have not heard the official word. But every day he has been doing more in practice, including Thursday in which he fully participated. I will be extremely surprised if you see him on the bench not in uniform ready to go.
Right now it is C.J. Fair. He had a big 16 points in the loss at Pittsburgh and that was scoring off the bench. He has a knack of hitting shots in the paint and is a smart passer that can create opportunity for his teammates. He also gets down and dirty by earning a couple blocks a game. He currently is a better defender than Fab Melo or Dion Waiters and is the lowest liability on the defensive end for the freshmen. He’s also hitting his stride in the Big East. Look for him to get some scoring opportunities off the bench this weekend.
Does Villanova or Syracuse have the advantage in the backcourt? How about the frontcourt?
I think it’s a slight advantage to Villanova in the backcourt. While Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche have been pretty good this season, they both can be prone to turnovers and questionable decision making. All of the Villanova guards are quicker and are slightly better at shooting. They have the edge there.
Syracuse definitely has the edge in the front court. Rick Jackson leads the league in rebounds, and is a double-double machine. No one on Pittsburgh could guard him and I doubt Villanova has someone that can. On top of that Kris Joseph is a dynamic player and the other forwards are playing well right now, including Fair and James Southerland. Syracuse earns the edge here.
Reports are flying that this could be another attendance record. What does this say about the Villanova-Syracuse rivalry?
They have added some seats, so a record breaking day is certainly a possibility. Already over 33,000 tickets have been sold for sure. While this is a big rivalry in the league these days, I think it speaks more for a lack of quality games on Saturdays in Syracuse. Literally, it’s the best one on the schedule. Our other choices for Saturday conference home games were Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Rutgers, DePaul, and Villanova. While Notre Dame was a good game it was on New Years Day. And it’s obvious the other games are not as attractive to fans. This was almost the biggest game by default. Syracuse fans definitely see Villanova as a top five rival, but it will never be as big as Georgetown or Connecticut. Don’t worry, Syracuse still wants to win though.
How will this all play out on Saturday?
I honestly think it will be a game similar to last season. Syracuse’s crowd will be large and loud and, while Syracuse doesn’t have the same outside shooting, they still have a very tough defense, an excellent transition game, and will dominate inside both with post play and rebounding. I think this will be a very tough game for Villanova to pull off and unless they get some really consistent three point shooting Syracuse will be able to pull away early in the second half and be able to keep Villanova limited in scoring opportunities. Syracuse wins this one by 8.
Many thanks to Brian for taking the time to chat. Later today we'll have a chat with Sean Keeley from Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician.