A Look At The Syracuse Orange

The Hartford Courant

Next meeting: At least one game at UConn, or a home-and-home two-game series if the Big East schedule calls for it.

Last season: UConn was being blown out of the Carrier Dome before roaring back from a 16-point deficit. Jerome Dyson tied it at 65 with a three-pointer with 2:33 remaining. Two possessions later, with the game still tied, Andy Rautins missed a three-pointer for Syracuse, Scoop Jardine wound up with the ball after an offensive rebound and coach Jim Boeheim signaled for a timeout – one that was controversially awarded – as Jardine drove for a shot.

Wesley Johnson was fouled by Stanley Robinson with 30.4 seconds left and made both free throws for a two-point Syracuse lead. Dyson missed a three and Joseph made two more free throws to help seal the Orange victory.

It was the final game George Blaney coached in place of Jim Calhoun.

Syracuse, which entered the season unranked, would go on to win the Big East regular season title, gain a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and finish 30-5 after a Sweet 16 loss to national runner-up Butler.

Who's gone, who's back: The Orange got one spectacular season from wing Wesley Johnson, who transferred in from Iowa State, won Big East player of the year and declared for the NBA draft after his junior season. Gone, too, are sharpshooter Andy Rautins and big man Arinze Onuaku.

But the Orange have plenty of talent returning, particularly on the perimeter. Jardine and Brandon Triche will control the outside, with Kris Joseph and Rick Jackson leading the way up front. Joseph averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 rebounds last season – first on the team among returning players. Also, as is often the case, Jim Boeheim has brought in a stellar recruiting class, led by big man Fab Melo, who UConn was in the hunt for. Don't sleep on the Orange. Many did last season around this time.

The UConn-Syracuse rivalry: UConn trails the all-time series, 50-35, after losing the last two meetings. The Huskies and the Orange played one of the most memorable games in college basketball history in the 2009 Big East tournament, with Syracuse winning 127-117 in six overtimes.

With Hall of Fame, 800-plus-win coaches in Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim, this is always one of the more high profile matchups in the nation.

UConn's 70-59 victory over Syracuse at the Civic Center on Jan. 15, 1990 helped pushed UConn onto the national map and was a signature moment of the Dream Season. The Huskies the next month in Syracuse, but defeated the Orange, 78-75, at Madison Square Garden in the Big East tournament championship game.

Syracuse defeated UConn in the conference tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

What's at stake: A valuable Big East victory. Also, Jim Calhoun missed last season's matchup at the Carrier Dome, and this is a rivalry of mutual respect. Both were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 and have spent the last few seasons neck-and-neck in their climb up the Division I list of career coaching victories.

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