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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Orange of Syracuse

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Yes! The internet’s greatest feature returns for the annual battle between your Fighting Hoyas of Georgetown and the evil Orange of Syracuse. With us to dish on all things Cuse are our frenemies at Troy Nunes is An Absolute Magician. May they die like dogs. Let’s do this!

1) Syracuse! How’s it going, my guy?

Have to be honest, getting a little exhausted by this annual thing where Syracuse flirts with disaster in non-conference play, then does just enough to make the NCAA Tournament field later in the year. At 5-4 so far, we’re well on our way to one of those outcomes — or potentially a worse one. Who knows!

On the bright side, we’re not Georgetown, so I guess we have something going for us.

2) Our matchup this year isn’t exactly a riveting one, with both squads struggling a bit this season. What has been Syracuse’s biggest problem getting going?

Syracuse’s defense has been falling off gradually in recent years, but sort of fell off a cliff this year with a team lacking year-over-year cohesiveness and zone experience. At its best, the 2-3 zone is a collection of solid-to-great individual defenders who work well together in the constructs of the system. This is decidedly not that, and it’s shown — especially against teams that can really shoot the ball from beyond the arc. The Orange are allowing opponents to hit over 33% of threes this year (190th in the country), and KenPom has them ranked 147th in defensive efficiency.

3) I had no idea until recently that Syracuse has not one but two Boeheims on the roster. Buddy can clearly shoot it, but what about the other gremlin Jimmy? This is getting ridiculous, no?

The second the Ivy League opted out of last season, we sort of figured that Jimmy was on his way to Syracuse for a one-year Boeheim-a-palooza. Admittedly, we’d hate it if this was any other team. But Jimmy’s actually shown himself to be a relatively capable player, averaging 14.9 points per game and hitting 44% of his threes. Would the program be in a better spot if the coach’s sons didn’t have to play a combined 72 minutes per game? Perhaps. But we’ll address that reality next year anyway when both players move on.

4) What is the last movie you saw in theaters?

Marvel’s Eternals, which... is a movie that exists. I wouldn’t say it was a particularly good movie, mind you. But I didn’t hate it as much as reviews seemed to.

5) Syracuse is horrible. No real question here.

If you guys think we’re horrible, we may be doing something right.

6) What are your thoughts on the ManningCast? Are you, like me, wondering why you would ever watch the regular MNF broadcast ever again?

I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for a network to truly embrace an alternative game feed like this, and I don’t think the genie’s going back in the bottle. ManningCast is very good, but also has the ability to be better than future imitators by a significant amount, though. That would seem to help it last awhile, if we’re lucky.

7) Who is the next coach of the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team?

I’d love for Syracuse to go outside the family tree and embrace the challenge of retaining its place among the top 10-15 programs in the country post-Boeheim. But... I don’t think they’ll do that, even though they should. So that leaves Mike Hopkins (not having a great time at Washington), current assistant Gerry McNamara (not ready yet) and fellow assistant Adrian Autry (might be ready). No matter who takes over, they’ll be inheriting an impossible task to keep things the same while also making them decidedly better. I don’t envy whichever one of those three winds up taking over.

8) What is your take on the Patrick Ewing era thus far at Georgetown?

As a Knicks fan, I’ve kept an eye on Ewing’s coaching career and feel like he was passed up a few too many times for pro jobs he deserved. But at Georgetown, I didn’t necessarily see the fit beyond him being a former Hoya. He hadn’t coached at the college level and the main draw seemed to be selling players on past success. I think he’s mostly failed to elevate Georgetown beyond where they were when he took over, and that’s a problem for any coach.

9) Is our rivalry ever going to mean something other than to our fans ever again?

I’m wondering how long it’ll even mean something to our fans given the fact that incoming kids for the last near-decade haven’t really seen the old Big East and the rivalry in action.

Lacking a shared conference affiliation has hurt the importance of the game, yeah. But do think both programs mailing in regular seasons lately has made that fact far worse. It’s just hard to see this game mattering again without being in the same league or both stringing together several years of matchups where both are in the top 25 when they play.

10) There are so many Syracuse alums who are broadcasting sporting events! Give us a list of your top five.

If you insist! Active folks only...

1. Sean McDonough

2. Anish Shroff

3. Beth Mowins

4. Dave Pasch

5. Ian Eagle

11) Which is worse? Georgetown losing to a lower-level Ivy League school? Or Syracuse losing to a brand of toothpaste?

When said toothpaste loss happened (for the first time in over half-a-century), it was easy to say Georgetown losing to Dartmouth. However, Colgate’s lost three of four since beating the Orange. Still, ‘Gate is more than 100 spots better on KenPom than Dartmouth, so giving us the advantage on the embarrassing loss front for now.

12) What’s the deal with Benny Williams? He’s not playing and Coach Boeheim trashed him after the FSU game - are you a tad concerned that there are only so many times Boeheim can pull this stuff before it completely destroys his ability to recruit?

It’s tough because I personally disagree with the tactic, and also think it creates a bad look when your sons and honorary Boeheim kid Joe Girard are logging the minutes they are. That said, Williams recently noted that he won’t be transferring, and the upcoming recruiting class is actually looking solid (ranked 14th, but admittedly volume plays a role there with five players). I’ve been one to question how much longer “we” can do this at various points in the last 15 years, but Boeheim’s proven me wrong just about every time, so don’t know why it would be any different now.

13) Is there anything about this Georgetown team that worries you coming into the game?

Big thing is rebounding, really. Orange center Jesse Edwards is very good on both ends, but isn’t the biggest factor on the glass, while Syracuse only averages 36.6 rebounds per game as a team. That could be a problem against a Georgetown team that both averages more and is very capable on the offensive glass. Plus if you get Edwards in foul trouble, things go off the rails pretty quickly for Syracuse.

Without a great perimeter defense for SU, there’s also the chance that Kaiden Rice and/or Donald Carey go off from three. I don’t like Syracuse’s odds in any shootout-type situation.

14) Looking back on it, do you wish you were still in the Big East?

This is a constant point of discussion within the Syracuse fan base, and it’s a tough one. Most Orange fans, self included, miss the peak of what the Big East was, the identity inherent within the conference, and the true rivalries we got to enjoy with Georgetown, Villanova and UConn. But realistically, the Big East many fans are yearning for wasn’t going to be able to exist in the current college athletics landscape, especially if SU still wanted to actually play football at the FBS level (what UConn’s doing doesn’t count).

So I don’t wish we were still in the Big East because of the larger consequences of that decision, but do wish the games against Georgetown could regain some of their previous importance. As mentioned earlier, I don’t think being in different conferences prevents this game from mattering. A lack of regular season success for both teams is the biggest fuel there.

15) Final score prediction?

Syracuse is the better team here, and if they can defend well enough and hit threes, that should put them in a solid position to win. Of course, all goes to hell pretty quickly if a) Georgetown gets hot from outside and/or b) Edwards picks up early fouls. I think we see a tight contest that the Orange win via some sort of random three or questionable foul call. Y’know, the usual ending to these sorts of games that leaves neither fan base feeling great save for the spite they have for the opposing team. Orange 70, Georgetown 68.