With start of practice 10 days away, The D.O. takes an early look at SU’s basketball schedule

first_imgBLOG POST: This season, pundits cannot bad-mouth Boeheim‘s schedule choices Brett LoGiurato Outrageous Fun So if any of the talking heads at ESPN still, somehow, say at any point this season that Jim Boeheim doesn’t schedule quality non-conference opponents, well, I’m just going to lose it. After a lengthier process than usual, the Syracuse men’s basketball team finally has a complete schedule, which was officially released on Sept. 17. The athletic department had already announced the previous day the team would appear three times on ESPN’s Big Monday — at Pittsburgh and Villanova and at home against West Virginia.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text There’s only one addition to the non-conference portion of the schedule that had largely already been established: a home date with Morgan State on Dec. 20. And in that non-conference portion of its schedule, Syracuse has no easy path to the undefeated start it had last season in non-conference play. There is the Legends Classic in Atlantic City, where it will face Michigan and either Georgia Tech or UTEP. And there is the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, where the Orange will square off against Tom Izzo and Michigan State. Syracuse starts off its 2010 season with Northern Iowa on Nov. 12 at the Carrier Dome, against a team that made the Sweet 16 last season after beating No. 1 Kansas. Though the Panthers are not that same team — most critically missing the clutch shooting of the departed Ali Farokhmanesh — they are a far cry from the cupcakes Syracuse has scheduled to open its season in the past. Last year was Albany. The year before, Le Moyne (although we all know how that cupcake of a game worked out last preseason).   And here’s how each of last season’s Final Four squads open up the year. Duke faces Princeton at home, a game that would be good — 15 years ago. Butler opens at home against Marian (yeah, I had to look it up, too). Michigan State has Eastern Michigan, whose only similarity with Michigan State stops at the word ‘Michigan.’ And fellow Big East member West Virginia will take on Oakland, whose nickname is the Golden Grizzles. So that’s good. In its non-conference schedule, Syracuse will rarely have a break. Following a three-game ‘easy’ streak after Northern Iowa, the Orange will face Michigan, Georgia Tech/UTEP, Cornell, North Carolina State and Michigan State in succession. There are plenty of questions surrounding SU coming into the season. By the time a date with Providence rolls around on Dec. 28, Syracuse will have had 13 non-conference games to answer many of them. Even though there hasn’t been bubble talk in each of the past two seasons, that bubble is always a good bet each February and March. And if there is bubble talk, those 13 games should, for once, keep the Orange on the right side. Praising Jim Boeheim’s schedule? That’ll be a change for Doug Gottlieb. [email protected] REBUTTAL: With trips to Atlantic City, New York SU’s prep for March unique, best in Big East Tony Olivero Purify the colors Two obvious goals for any Big East coach with his non-conference schedule: — Reach out to the Big East’s Mecca — New York City and Madison Square Garden — and expose the 2010 edition of your team to the 19,763 fans and the millions piped in via national television. — Have your squad travel on a weekend to a regional location against NCAA Tournament-level competition, just four months in advance. Simulate what is to come in March. And there it is. The most recent news regarding Syracuse’s schedule comes with that of the three Big Monday games that should get the Orange the ESPN-piped in awareness of the country. But when looking at this schedule, what sticks out more than anything else has to do with the two things SU was able to accomplish that the rest of the Big East didn’t accomplish. The Orange will be playing in two high-profile preseason non-Big East events. No other Big East team can make that claim. Not Georgetown. Not Connecticut. Not anyone. Sorry St. John’s, the Holiday Festival (the Red Storm’s pseudo-home tournament) doesn’t count as a high-profile event. On Friday Nov. 26 and Saturday the 27th, the Orange will make an NCAA-like regional road trip 315 miles away to Atlantic City, N.J., for the Legends Classic. Then on Dec. 7, the Orange will go straight to the Mecca and take on Michigan State in the Jimmy V Classic. The figurative killing of two birds with one stone — accomplishing two ideal tasks with one preseason schedule. Not something that is unexpected for the likes of UConn, Villanova and Louisville to do. But in 2010, none of them did it. The Orange did. The regional road trips, and all that come with them, will accompany this team by November. The weekend elimination tournament play — the kind that is awfully familiar the weekend before the Final Four, the kind that wasn’t kind to Syracuse last season in Salt Lake City — will be there in Atlantic City. And when the trip to New York is considered, it’s a further early season attempt to crack in and remind Midtown Manhattan that, yeah, this is the Syracuse program that always provides you with something to talk about come early March. Syracuse’s inclusion in the two events means that inherently, no matter what happens, the SU college basketball brand may be the most coveted in the Big East. Most teams aren’t playing in one premier preseason event. Nevermind two. DePaul in the 76 Classic. Georgetown in the Charleston Classic. 76 Classic? Charleston Classic? The names don’t hold weight in the general fan’s psyche. The Jimmy V Classic. You’ll see ads about it for weeks. The Legends Classic? No, Stan Verrett-plugged TV spots won’t accompany it. But what will accompany it is March come November. Back to the not so distant March-past of the Scoop Jardine’s of the world. A little back to the past when looking ahead to the future. And it’s a future for the Orange that the program has only faced once in the past decade. It’ll be a little bit more of a challenge. But a welcoming and forecasting challenge. The last time SU has played in two high-profile early-season tournaments you ask? 2004. That team? Well, that March, it won the Big East Tournament. We’ll have to wait until March, though, to see if it is in fact back to the future. [email protected] Published on October 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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