So this is where I admit it....Jonny Flynn is probably my favorite player in the entire NCAA right now. Actually "Jonny Flynn is a badass" is usually how I describe it. I think he is absolutely one of the most underrated and overlooked players in college basketball. He does still have some more developing to do, but in general, what he brings to the table is pretty awesome. As a player, the kid brings it all: speed, strength, great passing, outside shooting, etc. He isn't the tallest guy on the floor, but that never stops him from aggressively penetrating to the basket and jumping over just about anyone to dunk the ball. Not only does he give you direct offensive production, he creates more offense through his ability to pass and see the open floor. So that's my pitch....I'm driving the Jonny Flynn bandwagon and there's plenty of room for you to hop on. :)
That being said, yesterday's game against Villanova was not exactly a great campaign message. From the opening tip, Syracuse just seemed to be having an off day. Villanova shot extremely well thanks to the strong play of Dante Cunningham and the Coreys (Fisher and Stokes) and Syracuse just couldn't get anything going. In the first half alone, the Orange scored only 9 field goals and it was only their free throw shooting that gave them any chance at all (which is interesting because Syracuse is normally a poor free throw shooting team). They had absolutely no rebounding, too many turnovers and their defense was best described as a " sieve." Yikes. Granted, a lot of it was because they're pretty banged up right now (one example: Onawaku is battling a knee injury and can barely jump off the floor) and they aren't actually a very deep team, so no doubt this intense Big East schedule is taking a toll. This is really a time when a lot of these Big East teams are going to have to start digging really deep to find some energy hidden somewhere, otherwise the tournament is going to be BORING...all these teams will be too exhausted to play anymore!
On the plus side, Syracuse was extremely aggressive driving to the basket and drew enough fouls to get Nova in trouble in the first half and as mentioned before, their free throw shooting was much better than normal...but that's about where it stopped. The second half was much of the same as the first. Their horrendous defense was really what hurt them...every time the Orange managed to generate some offense and get some good shots, Villanova ran right back down the court for what looked like a lot of easy scores. A lot of coaches will say that good defense leads to offense and apparently Syracuse missed that memo. Around the 7 minute mark, they went on kind of a mini-run and I thought "Hey, maybe this is where it turns around"...but I was wrong. They actually closed to within 11 at one point and I would LOVE to be able to say it was because they did A, B and C...but unfortunately ESPN cut out of the game for that stretch so I have no idea what happened. All I know is that it clearly didn't matter, because Villanova still blew them out in the end. The Cats lost some games early, but they seem to really be hitting their stride at the right time. It's so hard not to love Big East basketball this year.
P.S.--Props to Jay Wright for being the best-dressed coach in college basketball. I don't know what it is, but that man can work a suit like nothing I've ever seen. If I were his agent, I'd be on the phone with Armani trying to work out some kind of deal. I'm just sayin....