Bunches of thanks go out to the best Syracuse blog around, by a mile, Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, who was kind of enough to answer some questions. Make sure and check out TNIAAM for plenty of Syracuse content, it is an absolutely outstanding blog.
And so, without further ado, here are Nunes' answers. Make sure and check out his blog for my answers to his questions, some of which were more painful to answer than others.
Rock Chalk Talk: 1) With Donte Greene gone, who is your best player?
Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician: Here's the dirty secret from last season...even with all of his scoring and athletic ability...any Syracuse fan still only wanted the ball in PG Jonny Flynn's hands at the end of the game. All due respect to Donte, who put up some great numbers and had some very solid offensive games, but we didn't really see him as the second coming of Carmelo i.e. this is the guy who will lead up back to the promised land. But we feel that way about Flynn.
If he's not the best point guard in the country, he's in the discussion for sure. He played every minute of every game last season so even as a sophomore he's got experience to go around. He's working with a much fuller deck this season to rely on so he won't be asked to score quite as much (unless the situation calls for it). I think he's going to progress into an even better point guard this season and while his stats might not reflect it, be the leader we are all hoping he's going to become. We just hope he doesn't jump after this season, he's only going to get better.
RCT: 2) How far do you think this team can get in a ridiculously tough Big East? And in the NCAAs?
TNIAAM: Here's the thing...it's still too early for anyone to truly saw all of those teams are that good and everyone else isn't. I think, based only on what I've seen of SU, that they're capable of being part of that top-tier discussion. Last year's SU team loses that Richmond game and last year's SU team certainly doesn't beat Florida in November in a neutral location. We may end up with 10-11 losses just based on the brutal schedule but it's going to be a damn good 10-11 loss record.
I'm pretty confident this team returns to the NCAAs, and if I had to lay down a guess right now I'd say they're a 5 seed. But if we know anything about college basketball, it's that things change quickly. Long way to go but right now I see good things for this team.
RCT: 3) Should Syracuse have made the NCAAs either of the last two years? And, if so, are you still pissed about it?
TNIAAM: I'm personally over it but I know a LOT of SU fans are not. Not so much last year as I think we all knew the team didn't do enough but it was the previous year, 2006-2007, that everyone's still rankled about.
I think they probably SHOULD have made it in 2007 but at this point what's done is done. And it's not like SU didn't put themselves in that position to begin with. It's always a little funny when you think about it too, cause basically you're arguing that you should be allowed into the Tourney and if you do get in you're probably a 10-11 seed and most likely done in the first weekend anyway. But it's the placement that counts, I know...
All demons can be exorcised with an appearance this year.
RCT: 4) I'll sort of copy off you with the next two...Syracuse wins because....
TNIAAM: ...of many of the same things that got them the win against Florida. Flynn controls the tempo, Rautins is hitting his shots, Paul Harris is doing Paul Harris things (which is everything) and Arinze Onuaku is marking his territory in the paint (not literally). And if Eric Devendorf can put on a better show than he did last night, look out.
RCT: 5) And, Kansas wins because....
TNIAAM: Too many SU players have off-nights, as in Devo can't get it together and Onuaku can't establish himself down-low. If Rautins returns to his cold shooting. Kansas controls the tempo and slows things down. The "hometown" crowd gets into the game. SU doesn't hit their free throws (which they haven't been save for Flynn).
RCT: 6) Can I get a real-quick prediction?
TNIAAM: I'm looking forward to a great game that will set the tone for both team's December. Gotta go with my boys and I'll shove the 2003 dagger in a little deeper by predicting SU 81, Kansas 78.
Thanks again. Make sure and check