Battle of the Midway Musings: The Fizz Was On Hand to Experience the Event

Having the opportunity to witness Syracuse’s season-opening victory over San Diego State firsthand aboard the USS Midway was a true privilege. Calling the game for WAER was one of the most remarkable experiences I’ve ever had. Seeing the event unfold in person, here are my Fizz Five observations from The Battle on the Midway.

  • Basketball is an indoor sport for a reason

For everyone who’s blamed a missed jumper in your driveway on the wind, this was your validation. Thankfully, the wind was far worse during practice on Saturday than it was on gameday, but throughout the weekend it made shooting from long range difficult.

The first thing I saw when I stepped aboard the aircraft carrier on Saturday was the wind push a Nick Resavy corner three halfway out to the foul line. During the game on Sunday, the teams shot a combined 2-22 from three-point range. Even the 2-3 zone doesn’t put up defensive numbers like an ocean gust.

  • The ugly game benefited Syracuse

SU was smothering on defense, holding San Diego State to 27% shooting, and a paltry 1-18 from downtown. The Aztecs are a veteran-laden team with several skilled shooters, and the Orange took them completely out of their comfort zone. The reigning top two scorers in the Mountain West, Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley, looked out of sync all afternoon, and finished a combined 6-25 from the field.

Syracuse made the collective decision not to take jump shots, attempting only four three-pointers. The recipe for SU was defense and attacking the rim, which set an excellent precedent for the rest of the season. This game proved the Orange can win without shooting the ball well, and more importantly, relying on the outside shot isn’t necessary.

  • Key players are raising their games

Brandon Triche, Michael Carter-Williams, and C.J. Fair were all instrumental in SU’s efforts to take the ball to the rack. With Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Dion Waiters, and the Brazilian-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named all gone, the core returning players have to be more than what they were last season. Early indications show they will be.

Triche has been ultra-aggressive through two preseason games and the opener, just as he should be. The shooting guard admittedly has a tendency to settle for jumpers and play passively. Don’t expect too much of that during his senior season, now that it’s finally his team. MCW surpassed his previous career scoring high in both exhibition games and against San Diego State. Fair piled up 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds on Sunday. With his smooth midrange game, he’ll no doubt be a consistent scorer this year.

  • The Freshmen aren’t ready yet

Perhaps this will change by conference play, but the rookies were not a factor against the Aztecs. DaJuan ColemanTrevor Cooney, and Jerami Grant each played less than 10 minutes. An early Coleman bucket represented the only points for the trio.

We all know Jim Boeheim has a short leash with his freshmen. We saw it last year with Carter-Williams and Rakeem Christmas, the year before with Fab Melo, and certainly plenty of times before that. If you’re ready to contribute, regardless of your class, Boeheim will play you, but he’s not going to give out minutes just because he likes a player’s “potential.” The freshmen have to earn their time on the floor.

The frosh now have an entire non-conference slate of much easier opponents to refine their games against. Here’s betting Coleman and Cooney become fixtures in the rotation, while Grant ultimately receives limited playing time during the heart of Big East play.

  • Let’s do this again!

Yes, two of the three aircraft carrier games this year were cancelled, and it easily could have been three for three (if not for moving the Battle on the Midway from Friday to Sunday). The game was a logistical nightmare in many respects.

But being there was awesome. It was a magical event, getting to see basketball being played aboard an aircraft carrier on Veterans Day, looking out onto the San Diego Bay.

It wasn’t the greatest TV event, and the game was affected by the wind and sun. But as Boeheim said, his team has 30 more regular season games to play. This was just one. What a 180-degree about face from the coach that used to by schedule lesser opponents at the Dome to protect every non-conference game like the Crystal Skull.

I’d take this every time over another dreary November game against a Patriot League school.

This was more about the players and the school than the common fan. It was more about the event than the game itself. But in 31-game season, who really cares?

Posted: Andrew Kanell


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  1. Tom says:

    How come Coleman didn’t get more playing time? I mean he had those 2 early fouls but looked like he should have been in more

  2. Ron says:

    @Andrew Kanell;I was saddened by the fact that I had to work and missed the game. Everyone has told me what a show it was and all were glad that Syracuse won the game.
    I guess this game played out in California against a top 20 team will shut the pundits on ESPN up about not playing anyone outside of NY until February. What will they have to talk about now? Poor souls. The next out of state early season trip is to the SEC to play Arkansas where I know they will blow them off of the court too.

    The Big East(as I see it)is a two horse race between Syracuse and Louisville. One will be THE BIG EAST LEAGUE CHAMPION and one will be THE BIG EAST TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS.

    My guess,Syracuse should go 32-3 to maybe a 34-1 overall record(that’s including tournament games) before going into the NCAA tournament this year.

    GO CUSE;

  3. Ron says:

    @Andrew Kanell;I forgot to add;great post as usual. Syracuse looking real good in last year of play in the Big East. Next year playing in the ACC should be awesome baby just AWESOME.

    HEY ALL OF YOU BASKETBALL FANS,get ready to pack the house(next year)against either Duke or North Carolina when they come to the Dome and Syracuse moves the court to center stage where 50,000 people will watch the game live and in color.

  4. Carlton says:

    I think you go back an see reason 1 for y cooney did not play well. He’s a shooter not to strong /w the ball yet not like he was gonna put it on the deck an attack that’s not his game.

    @Tom, my guess to y DC didn’t play more was b/c they couldn’t spread the floor /w shooters to allow him to work down low and didn’t want him clogging the lane for BT, MCW and fair to drive to the basket. Just a guess but the wind is y I think his min’s got limited.

  5. Ron says:

    @Carlton;just reiterating what Russell has written in the past,glad to see you back again. Welcome home.

  6. Wrobel says:

    I did this specific while functioning today. Great workout. ? Thanks a lot!

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