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Year in Review: The Fizz 5 Dissects Syracuse Basketball’s Unforgettable Season

The Fizz Five examines the 2013-14 basketball season.

Follow The Fizz on Twitter for the latest SU basketball news

via Amherst Times

A season in which many believed it was Final Four or bust came to a rapid close Saturday night in Buffalo. Syracuse not only lost to no.11 seed Dayton to stop any possibility of a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, but basketball now halts in Central New York. The end the 2013-2014 season brings about many good and bad memories, as well as several unanswered questions heading into next year.

The Fizz 5 salutes this year’s SU hoops team. We take a look back at an awesome season from a unit that arguably gave the program’s fan base the most chills and thrills in recent memory.

Unexpected, breakout years from Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis upgraded Syracuse from  a top 15 team to a legitimate national title contender. Cooney’s spark opening night against Cornell in the Dome (27 points) set the tone for the sophomore’s huge year. He recorded 11 double-digit scoring outings in non-conference play to really get Syracuse rolling in the early goingHis 33-point performance against Notre Dame was undoubtedly his best game of the year and possibly one of the best three-point shooting performances in program history. Then of course Cooney’s significant dropoff in production brought out the best in his critics. Although he got ice-cold down the stretch, Cooney developed. As for Tyler Ennis, he had some big shoes to fill once Michael Carter-Williams immediately blossomed in the NBA. From Game 1 to 34, Ennis never seemed uncomfortable. What took his game to a whole new level was his killer instinct at the end of games. We witnessed a glimpse of his abilities in Maui, and his two amazing outings against Pittsburgh cemented his talent. Ennis’ play raised SU’s status from pretender to contender.

The Orange jumped out to an amazing start, 25-0, the best start in program history. Syracuse just kept winning close games, contests that’ll go down as some of the best ever. Pittsburgh twice. A thrashing of Villanova in non-conference play, a highly anticipated top-10 matchup. A pair of Duke Bloodbaths, at the Dome in front of 35,446 and another classic at Cameron Indoor when Jim Boeheim unleashed his frustration at the officials. SU basically won every game in its new conference in a nail-biter. Some felt that was a good thing as it demonstrated this team’s discipline to get the job done late in games. Others may have felt it was a recipe for disaster—which it ended up being. Sometimes your record doesn’t always dictate just how good of a basketball team you are. But you can’t argue with 25-0.

Poor offensive production sadly became the trademark of this team. Syracuse went just 3-6 in its final nine games of the season. Terrible losses to Boston College and Georgia Tech shocked many, but at the end of the day SU simply didn’t put the ball in the basket down the stretch. It upset Orange Nation because shots that fell all season long didn’t go down to close the year. Syracuse was at its best offensively when it drew steals and forced turnovers on the defensive end. It allowed the offense to get out on the break and score quickly in transition and in rhythm. Thirty-nine percent from the field over that final stretch just isn’t going to get in done. The defense, as Boeheim reiterated several times, bailed SU out a lot.

CJ Fair now waves goodbye to the SU faithful. An emotional Fair hit the locker room after the Dayton loss Saturday, in disbelief his career as an Orange was over. The preseason ACC Player of the Year and second–team All-American proved his worth. Tough to think Fair wouldn’t agree that his final game in an SU uniform was not his best. He pretty much played stand-still offensive in the closing minutes against the Flyers. But Fair had many great games during the season, with 28 points—a career high—twice, once against Duke at home and Georgia Tech in his final home game. Fair played through the majority of his career.  What Fair may regret his lack of “takeover” mode as the season progressed. He displayed spurts of it every so often, but his inconsistency hurt himself and team’s entire production. Syracuse fans however should have nothing but bad things to say about the senior and his fellow classmate Baye-Moussa Keita. Both are class acts and huge assets to the program.

Going forward now, who’s on board for next year? Speculation of possible NBA-bound talent reached its peak in the midst of Syracuse’s perfect season. The two key names are Ennis and Jerami Grant. Both players are on Chad Ford’s mock drafts. It’s been back and forth for the most part as to which player stays and which player goes. One day it’s Ennis leaving, Grant staying. The next, it’s the complete opposite. I could really see Ennis giving it another go as a sophomore just because his first season might have felt like his senior year already. He gained so much national spotlight that the kid barely had time to even experience a college lifestyle. Grant has raw talent and with proper coaching could do big things at the pro level. He may very well be back as well. As for the coaching staff, ESPN reports Marquette has assistant Mike Hopkins as a potential head coach candidate. Hopkins was once in one USC’s coaching vacancy, but decided to stay on board with the Orange. And it comes up every year: will Jim Boeheim be back for Year 39 as Syracuse head coach. With the program just getting a small dose of the ACC, it’s hard to believe Boeheim isn’t back next year. Syracuse also has 2014 recruits in PG Kaleb Joseph and PF Chris McCullough to look forward to bringing on this coming fall.

Posted by: Brendan Glasheen 


56 Comments on this Post

  1. Carlton

    Well went to both games in buffalo. That 1st half vs Dayton was probably the worst half of basketball I’ve ever seen in a college game. I don’t remember how many lay ups the team missed around the rim but it probably was close to a dozen or more. Even /w that they had a couple shots to win the game in the end. I had the feeling things where not going to break our way after watching Dayton coming down and hitting that 3 that died on the rim and rolled in.

    I know ppl are mad at Ennis over that 3 ball that he took to win but it was a clean look. If he made it everyone be still talking about how clutch he is today. I didn’t like the jump shot he took prior to the 3 though. To be fair even on that shot he created enough separation to get a clean look. Although still been nice to see him take it to the rim. Can’t blame it all on Ennis though. Grant and Cooney never showed up and CJ struggled.

    People need to cut Cooney a break. All yr teams new he was our only outside threat and he still managed to have a pretty darn good season even though 90% of his shots got contested after having to fight through double teams and through screens to even get a look at the hoop. Next yr he shouldn’t have as many issues. BJ and Patterson should be able to help shoulder some of that outside shooting load.

    I know everyone is focused on if Grant and Ennis are coming back and rightfully so but to me what’s more important is the Fr we had this yr and how much do they improve? BJ, Patterson and Roberson will all big factors next yr and need to take big step forward if the team going to be successful.

  2. Carlton

    One thing I forgot to talk about is our bigs. I think it’s been well documented how much they have struggled. Let’s be honest regardless how u feel or what you may or may not think the guy did Fine knew how to coach up the big men. Since he has left our big men haven’t really improved much at all. Maybe it’s time to look outside the orange fam. to hire someone that can properly train the big men and turn that potential into reality b/c right now what they are doing just not cutting it.

  3. Cuse Don't Luse

    -Fair will be missed
    While Roberson and McCullough should help replace his points per game and spot in the zone, it is rare to see a top level player at a top tier division 1 play all 4 years these days and without any off the court problems. CJ will forever be an orangeman and I am very grateful to have watched him these past 4 years as he developed from a freshman working his way into the rotation all the way to the drum we beat to this year. Great Job Mr. Fair!

    -Ennis should stay.
    Besides the unforgettable Pitt ending, his jump shot has severely struggled. MCW shot 39.3% FG and 29.2% 3Pt and Ennis shot 43.8% FG and 14.3% 3PT. Ennis bumped up his FG% greatly with his drives to the hole but his poor 3 point percentage, though partially attributed to the times he was forced to chuck it up late in the shot clock, proves that his skill set is not enough well rounded yet for the next level

    -Grant could go pro
    Grant was our difference maker. He won us the Duke game in the dome by taking over in OT and consistently made “WOW” plays, but when he got hurt we struggled mightily. Hopefully he stays

    -Baye leaves, X-mas now a senior, Obokoh joins the mix
    Keita always played hard but X-mas was a prized recruit with a post game that has shown signs of consistent points. Foul trouble will be big for him with increased minutes.

    -Cooney can’t fade away
    Now you see him now you don’t. When Cooney was consistent no one could touch us, but when he cooled off I question if we could even beat a team like Baylor that we beat earlier with him like this. His ability to spread the floor makes him our X factor

    A lot of good will translate to next year. A memorable start and being #1 in the nation make it a memorable year. With all this being said next things next @THE FIZZ WHAT IS GOING ON IN FOOTBALL RECRUITING THESE DAYS …..HOW DO WE HAVE 0 COMMITMENTS????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  4. Cut Cooney a break…are you kidding! Cooney’s breakout year?…
    He did fine till they started covering him. Good shooters make open shots! They don’t cover Ray Allen??. Cooney makes shots when he can set and isn’t covered. To stop Cuse all you had to do was man up to Cooney and collapse on our Bigs. End of Cuse!
    We missed Coleman or any sure/ strong handed big man… but Cooney’s lack of production submarined the season. Hope JB can find a shooter before next season. Hope Grant is back..love this kid!
    Cooney is wy overrated and there are lots of shooters coming out of good high school program.

  5. I don’t know who wrote this but this was far from an unforgettable season. It could have been, except for the total collapse over the last five weeks. How you could characterize this season as unforgettable is beyond me.
    Look, these are college kids. I get it. They’re not pros. But…a team that started 25-0 should never ever finish the way this team did. Never. Close games or no, they were still 25-0; finishing 3-6 was inexcusable. This team couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean over the last nine games. Their half-court offense was non-existent, basically consisting of Cooney running around screens and Ennis looking for him to break open. If that wasn’t available, he threw it to either Fair or Grant, who went one-on-one to the hoop. Generally over the last five weeks they missed.
    C.J. Fair faded badly down the stretch, and was invisible in crunch time in big games. 53 points, 4 assists, and 0-10 from 3-point range against Dayton is not good enough; it’s just not. This isn’t Iowa State, it’s Syracuse University. Everyone I know is devastated and shocked. Unforgettable? I don’t think so.

  6. i really liked this website nice designing

  7. Brendan Glasheen

    @Cuse17 I wrote this and the best start in program history on top of the first year in the ACC, yes this is an unforgettable year. Every reason you just provided clearly shows you aren’t going to forget it. Unforgettable doesn’t necessarily mean it needed to be a great national championship or Final Four type of season. The way SU started and the way t unfortunately closed makes it unforgettable.

  8. Brendan Glasheen

    I apologize, that was directed at you @Mike O

  9. OK SUFB please. What about spring practice?? The SUBB season is over and the meds passed out so the fans don’t hurt themselves!! Now its time for FIZZ (or FIZZLE) to get off its duff and talk some FOOTBALL!!

    DO NOT FORGET THE KIDS OF PSABUSEDU!! THE NCAA DID!!

  10. Cuse Don't Luse

    ^ its football recruiting time again

  11. @Brendan Glasheen,

    one of the problems that I have with college and the pro sports is the overlapping of the seasons. The comment that you’ve made “Syracuse not only lost to no.11 seed Dayton to stop any possibility of a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, but basketball now halts in Central New York”,say’s it all.

    The basketball season is over and done with,and the football season has been going on since March 18th. SO PLEASE STOP WITH THE BASKETBALL BULLSH*T and start giving us something important to talk about. I hate saying this but the syr.com website is burying you with football articles and are making you all at the Fizz look like a bunch wannabe journalists. Get with the damn program people,it’s football time.

    The sports reported Nate Mink wrote a nice article on WR Quinta Funderburk today for syr.com. Nate Mink is a person that can write an indepth article on football,maybe DA you should make an effort to hire this guy,instead of having a bunch of rah,rah writers fresh out of college that can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

  12. @Cuse Don’t Luse;

    It’s nice to see that everything is still ok down in Texas.

    I hope your senior year has gone well for you. Have you made a decision as to where your going to play lacrosse yet? If you have,what school have you decided on?

    No matter where you go,I wish you the very best kid,good luck.

  13. Carlton

    Cuse17,

    Yes cut Cooney some slack. He was the only shooter on the dam team. Got most of the a tension. Only thing been nice to see him do is get to the rack a little more. Next yr will have couple more shooters you have to game plan for so Cooney should havea better yr.

    Spring practice is a nice look at the football team but nothing really more then that. Spring game will be fun to watch but this is basketballs time of yr. Spring practice is short and unimportant to the general public. Wake me up when practice starts this fall.

  14. Ron, thanks for the feedback. I obviously appreciate your loyalty to the site as well as everyone else’s. I’m very confident in the staff we have working here at the Fizz. They are talented, driven, passionate writers. Your pot shots at the staff are not okay. The body is still warm on the hoops season. The previously 25-0, #1 team in the country was eliminated on Saturday night. Coverage in the following days on what went wrong and what the team will look at next year is vital to telling the story of the season. Fear not, we all love football around here and will now shift into Spring Football coverage on the Fizz. But damn… we were mere hours after the season ended and you wanted to leave the carcass of hoops on the side of the highway!

  15. DA your favoritism towards SUBB is glaring!! That’s ugly journalism!! Can you hire someone more interested in SUFB!! So we can be up to date on SUFB!! Don’t worry DA I’ll remind you of your boring articles during the height of SUFB season as well. Lets see if you can stand not writing about SUBB for weeks like this present time of “NO” SUFB info!! So please kick the carcass of SUBB season out of the way and bring in COLLEGE’s #1 sport football back in!! Thank You!!

  16. DA;look we’ve all watched the team play this year. We know all about the pitfalls that the team went through. What you haven’t mentioned at all,is why they left CJ Fair in the game when he wasn’t hitting his shots. He didn’t score a basket until half way through the second half. Trevor Cooney wasn’t scoring either,nor was Jeremy Grant. So putting that together, why didn’t you ask Coach Beoheim about Roberson or Paterson or maybe Johnson coming off the bence to help? What’s the worst that could have happened? Not scoring a point,well that would have been just as good as what the starters were doing.

    I appreciated the fact that during their 25-0 run Tyler Ennis and Jeremy Grant recieved a ton of national exposure. The next comment/question from the press was,will they go pro after this year? I’ve talked with both players and told them that they needed to come back for a couple more years that they weren’t ready for the NBA. The game against Dayton proved to us all that neither is ready for the pros. The lessons that both should have learned was, Dayton rotated 9-10 players all year long keeping all of them fresh so that they could compete when they needed to compete and that they were also a SENIOR LADEN TEAM. Those two things totally priceless. Just to let you know I had Syracuse winning the National Championship this year on my bracket.

    Mike Hopkins is being mentioned again for jobs that have opened up at Boston College and Marquette. If he leaves Syracuse,all hell is going to break out. Is the administration ready for that?

    You didn’t write a thing about the womens basketball team making history by winning it’s first NCAA Tournament game or the fact that one of the best players on the team was seriously hurt and didn’t play against Kentucky a team that Syracuse almost beat. What about the womens lacrosse team beating Northwestern over the weekend improving their record to 9-1? What about the season the womens softball team is having? So much is going on at the university this time of year and I feel that you and your crew are missing a whole lot of the games that’s being played. Can you or anyone else tell me how in sam hell’s creation did the Syracuse mens lacrosse team lose to Duke 21-7?

    Look DA my thing is that I love all sports,especially when it comes to Syracuse University. I’m not DUMPING ANYTHING OR ANYONE by the road side. But damn it’s the start of the football season now,so let’s have some articles that’s going to create chatter amongst your membership.

    I want to repeat DA my feelings about your website. I love visiting it everyday and enjoy the debates that guy’s like Terry and I have at times. I think the membership are all true loyal Syracuse Fans that aren’t afraid to say what’s on their minds. I would truly miss it if it were ever to disappear.

  17. Cuse Don't Luse

    @Ron I have not made any decisions for college, but I am only a junior.

  18. Hello Ron!! My frustration with this site showing huh??

  19. @Cuse Don’t Luse;

    My impression was that you were going to graduate this year. Your parents must be real proud of you young man. when you fianally make a decision on what college your going to attend,let the rest of us know. I wish you the best kiddo,the very best. Good luck.

    @Terry;

    So is mine Terry,so is mine. I guess I got carried away a little with my last post. It’s frustrating for me knowing that there is so much going on at the university and nothing is being covered,NOTHING.

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