Posted on: October 27, 2012 2:28 pm

ESPN -- 20 Team Keeper - 2 owners NEEDED

Hi. Are you interested in joining a competitive 20 team points based keeper league? Now's you chance to be a part of a fun, active league entering its 5th year! The draft will be Sunday morning at 10 am EST!

Please see the two available teams below and the 5 keeper selections for each. Team #1 is more established and offers less rebuilding while those fantasy owners looking for a challenge would pick Team #2.

Team #1 -
Kobe Bryant
Demar DeRozan
Ramon Sessions
Blake Griffin
Russell Westbrook

Team #2 -

Mo Williams
James Harden
Marcin Gortat
Kahwi Leonard
O.J. Mayo

Please leave your e-mail below and accept the invitation immediately if you are interested. THANKS!
Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:10 pm


In search of four replacement team owners for a Yahoo! NBA Dynasty/Keeper League entering it's fourth season! It is a competitive and friendly league. Please stay active and draft with the future in mind. All of these teams are in pretty good shape and you will note there aren't lacking any talent or big name stars - Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, , Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul & many more. So if you are interested please check our the four teams below, and if you want to be take over one of them just let me know. Thanks for interest!
Hope to see you in the league for year #4!


Please note that the Draft is scheduled for Sunday, October 16th @ 8pm EST.

Once you select a team from below you may keep 10 players from that team.
**(However, you do not have to keep 10 players if you do not want. You may instead select draft picks during the live draft.)**

Draft Type: Live Standard Draft
Draft Time: Sun Oct 16 8:00pm EDT
Max Teams: 10 Live Draft Pick Time:
Scoring Type: Head-to-Head
Max Moves: No maximum
Max Trades: No maximum
Trade Reject Time: 2
Trade End Date: March 8, 2012
Allow Draft Pick Trades: No
Waiver Time: No waivers
Waiver Type: Continual rolling list
Can't Cut List Provider: Yahoo! Sports
Trade Review: Commissioner
Post Draft Players: Free Agents
Max Acquisitions per Week: 5
Weekly Deadline: Daily - Tomorrow
Start Scoring on: Week 1
Playoffs: Week 22, 23 and 24 (6 teams)
Note: Week 24 runs 10 days from Apr 9 to Apr 18
Playoff Reseeding: No
Lock Eliminated Teams: No
Divisions: Yes (2 divisions)
Playoff Seeding Options: All teams seeded according to overall standings
Make League Publicly Viewable: No
Roster Positions: PG, SG, G, G, SF, PF, F, F, C, C, Util, Util, Util, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN
Players Stat Categories: Field Goals Made (FGM), Field Goal Percentage (FG%), Free Throws Made (FTM), Free Throw Percentage (FT%), 3-point Shots Made (3PTM), 3-point Percentage (3PT%), Points Scored (PTS), Offensive Rebounds (OREB), Defensive Rebounds (DREB), Assists (AST), Steals (ST), Blocked Shots (BLK), Turnovers (TO)

**** Please reply with the TEAM NAME  & your  E-MAIL ADDRESS .



Tony Allen

Samuel Dalembert

Jared Dudley

Reggie Evans

Jordan Farmar

Daniel Gibson

Marcin Gortat

Devin Harris

Nene Hilario

Al Horford

Andre Iguodala

Stephen Jackson

Al Jefferson

Chris Paul

Ramon Sessions

Peja Stojakovic

Jason Terry

Mo Williams



Andrea Bargnani

Andrew Bogut

Corey Brewer

Mike Conley

Luol Deng

Kevin Durant

Raymond Felton

Danny Granger

Spencer Hawes

Roy Hibbert

Amir Johnson

Derrick Rose

Brandon Roy

Luis Scola

Dwyane Wade

Hakim Warrick

Louis Williams

Dorell Wright



LaMarcus Aldridge

Gilbert Arenas

Trevor Ariza

Nicolas Batum

Chauncey Billups

Wilson Chandler

Jamal Crawford

Tim Duncan

Mike Dunleavy

Danilo Gallinari

Eric Gordon

Richard Hamilton

Dwight Howard

Rashard Lewis

Darko Milicic

Lamar Odom

Tayshaun Prince

Beno Udrih



D.J. Augustin

Leandro Barbosa

Michael Beasley

Andray Blatche

Kobe Bryant

Vince Carter

DeMar DeRozan

Manu Ginobili

James Harden

J.J. Hickson

Jrue Holiday

JaVale McGee

Steve Nash

Shaquille O'Neal

Jason Richardson

Marcus Thornton

Charlie Villanueva

Reggie Williams

Posted on: April 3, 2011 12:58 pm

2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft #5

       The 2011 MLB season has finally begun & the good news is this will be my last fantasy draft post related to Baseball! Last weekend I participated in my 5th and final Draft. Please see the draft results below. This draft was the 2nd of my two money league drafts that I am participating in this year. It also happened to be through Yahoo! Sports and is a 10 team H2H league ($25 buy in). This will be my third season taking part in this particular league, and the first year that it will have a cash prize. I should actually state that this will be the first year with a buy-in to participate as in the past it was a free league with the rare or unheard of cash prizes!! It is always a highly competitive and really requires that the team owner stays active and works the free agent wire frequently in order to gain a slight upperhand on the rest of competition. I have little doubt that the excitement and competitive nature of the league will only increase with the cash payments, etc. The other unique aspect to this league is the fact that there are so many more bench slots than starting lineup positions so it definitely requires research and frequent player comparisons/stats in order to determine who to play and who to sit. It can be frustrating to have a decision backfire or leave statistics such as HR's or RBI's on the bench, but it happens and is part of the game. The team owner who is able to minimize leaving stats or avoiding injuries will be in a good position to win the league or at the very least make the Playoffs. The other part of this league that is rare is the use of 5 DL slots on each team roster which can be a blessing if the injury bugs happens to hit your team, but can also make it tough who to drop when players recover or become healthy. I really enjoy this league the most because of the high level of competition as well as the need to really manage your team roster if you want to be successful and compete for the the league title and cash prizes.    
         Overall, this draft and the results are in between Draft #4 and the first few drafts in terms of how happy I am with my selections and roster. I had the 8th overall pick in this year's draft, and it was the most difficult draft to date. The combination of a tough pick slot and the overwhelming knowledge of my fellow team owners made every pick extremely important, and this was evident in the time taken between each owners picks. The total time of this draft was easily the longest draft I participated in out of the others.
         I selected Ryan Braun with my first draft pick followed by Adrian Gonzalez, Jon Lester, Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips to round out my first 5 selections. I was pleased that I was able to draft a variety of players that I hadn't had a chance to obtain in past drafts in this particular draft by selecting Braun, Phillips, Alvarez and Drew respectively. I debated over my first pick for some time as it was between 3 players in my mind with Carlos Gonzalez, Roy Halladay and Braun. I thought about Roy for a bit too, and decided that I could get a #1 in Lester a few rounds later, and so as far as proven or the most consistent player offensively Braun had more of track record than 'CarGo' (so I decided to pass on one of my best draft selections from last season), and went with Ryan. I just felt that one amazing season in fantasy by Gonzalez didn't outweight the consistency of Ryan Braun, eventhough I believe Carlos is for real and will be a force for year's to come. However, the money value this year I felt it was hard to beat Braun who had a fellow teammate (Fielder) in a contract year which would be tough to pass on. Also to my surprise this was the first time I have owned Braun since I was fortunately enough to pick him up as a waiver wire free agent way back in his Rookie campaign. Eventually when I have more free time I will try and post a draft recap that totals each draft and the postition/players and results. Please see the draft results below and feel free to comment or advise! Thanks!

Team Name: H&R BlockZ

C- Carlos Santana
1B- Adrian Gonzalez
2B- Brandon Phillips
3B- Pedro Alvarez
SS- Stephen Drew
OF- Ryan Braun
OF- Justin Upton
OF- B.J. Upton
U- Billy Butler [1B]
BN- Vernon Wells [OF]
BN- Gordon Beckham [2B]
BN- Adam Jones [OF]
BN- Freddie Freeman [1B]
BN- Alex Gordon [3B/OF] *FA signing*
DL- Domonic Brown [OF]*Injured*

SP- Jon Lester
SP- Clay Buchholz
SP- Trevor Cahill
SP- Brett Anderson
SP- Ricky Romero
RP- Joe Nathan
RP- Chris Perez
RP- Brandon Lyon
BN- Daniel Bard *Dropped*
BN- Joel Hanrahan [RP] *FA signing*
BN- Carl Pavano [SP] *FA signing*

BN- Edwin Jackson
DL - Mat Latos [SP]*Injured*
Posted on: March 29, 2011 6:59 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 7:07 pm

2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft #4

         With the start of the 2011 MLB season just days away I participated in my 4th Draft this past Sunday (5 fantasy drafts total). As with my past posts I will detail the draft results below. This particular draft was the 1st of my two money league drafts that I am participating in this year. It is through Yahoo! Sports and is a 10 team H2H league ($25 buy in). In the past this has been a free & highly competitive league, but this year we decided to make it a pay league to increase the excitement and competition even more! In fact this is the longest running league I have ever been associated with and it has become a tradition of sorts each season. I was fortunate enough to win the league last season and hope to defend my title, but it won't be easy! This will actually be the 6th season with the same group of owners! The other difference between this draft and the others I have posted on here is that my younger brother also competes in this league so the sibling rivarly is also there, and adds to the overall enjoyment of this league in what can be a dreadfully long fantasy season.        
         Overall, I wasn't as happy with this draft and the results as in previous ones, but I was able to get decent value considering I had the last pick in this year's draft (#10 pick). I did draft players that I knew were injured (Utley & Morales), but I couldn't pass them up at the spots where I was able to select them within the draft, Utley  and Morales respectively. I think my SP staff is decent with proven innings eaters in Lackey and Nolasco to fill out the bottom of the rotation. Lester and Soria are probably what many would consider reliable or safe selections and I had to make a point of selecting a few key players like this throughout that specialized in certain categories and were almost guaranteed not to fail. Some other players like this included Ichiro (STL & HITS & AVG.)
and A-Rod (HRs & RBIs). I am gambling on a huge season from Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Upton, and also hope that Jose Reyes returns to form. My RP other than Soria is probably my biggest question mark on this particular roster as both Rodney and McGee's roles as Closer are far from secure. As in past seasons I will go to the waiver wire or trading block to land more consistent sources of Saves as well as work on improving my lineup and rotation too. Please see the draft results below.


C- Carlos Santana
1B- Adrian Gonzalez
2B- Chase Utley *Injured*
3B- Alex Rodriguez
SS- Jose Reyes
OF- Justin Upton
OF- Ichiro Suzuki
OF- B.J. Upton
U- Pablo Sandoval
U- Kendrys Morales *Injured*
BN- Starlin Castro  SS
BN- Gordon Beckham 2B
BN- Jason Bay OF
BN- Freddie Freeman 1B

SP-Jon Lester
SP-Mat Latos
SP-Chris Carpenter
RP-Joakim Soria
RP-Fernando Rodney
RP-Jake McGee
P-Clay Buchholz
P-Trevor Cahill
P-Ricky Nolasco
BN-John Lackey SP

        As always comments or advice are welcome. I will post my results for Draft #5 on Thursday or Friday of this week which will then be followed by a recap of all of the drafts, and a look at player selections/positions, etc. Stay tuned & again many thanks for taking the time to read my posts!
Posted on: March 22, 2011 11:22 pm

2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft #3

       The 2011 baseball season is nearly here, and will officially begin March 31st. I participated in another draft last week, but haven’t had a chance to post the results until now. I was caught up in all of the March Madness and the NCAA Tournament!! My favorite time of year!! Unfortunately my bracket was busted along with my favorite team the Syracuse Orange who were upset over the weekend by Big East foe Marquette. I hate to see Rick Jackson graduate as he was the team's most consistent presence on both ends of the floor and the clear leader as a Senior. But with defeat and sadness brings hope for next season and the arrival of two 5-Star freshman recruits in Rakeem Christmas and Michael Carter-Williams.  I look for the continued improvement of Brandon Triche, Fab Melo, CJ Fair, Dion Waiters, James Sutherland, and Kris Joseph already said publicly that he will return for his Senior season. If Scoop can limit his turnovers and overall poor shot selection next season could definitely bring potential for the Orange, but enough College Basketball. Let's focus on Baseball and below is another one of my fantasy teams and the corresponding draft results.     
        For this particular draft it was a Free Agent Draft for a 12 Team H2H Dynasty/Keeper League where each team owner only received 3 picks total (Note: These picks could also be traded too). I'm not really sure its fair to call it a draft when it is so short, but that's the beauty of Dynasty leagues and in this particular one each team owner kept their entire roster of players (minus 3 players from season to season).
       The other twist with this league and what varies greatly from the other drafts that I have posted in the past on CBS is that this league also deals with Minor League players! I feel this is a unique element of fantasy baseball that I feel adds a whole new dimension in drafting and roster stylings from year to year. I should mention that before this FA Draft this league also conducted a 3 player minor league draft to include the MiLB roster size from 10 to 13. So with these two drafts (FA and MiLB) combined it adds up to six total picks and while the drafts were held at separate occasions they were for the same overall team and purpose, and will be referred to as
Draft #3
       But before I reveal my picks for my team
Los Angeles Dodgers I will provide a little background on the league first. This will be my third season in this league and year after year it is the most challenging league that I am a part of and that includes money leagues. This league is competitive, yet free and is also unique for the sheer number of players that each team owner has to keep track of between the MLB and MiLB rosters. Each owner manages 13 minor league players and up to 26 major league players (with the 2 DL slots) which is 39 total! It is a league where you definitely have to remain active throughout the season which isn’t always easy with the excruciatingly long Baseball season. Keeping up on player news or rather team news is important on tracking the top stars of the future and also maintaining a solid current fantasy roster. Please see below my fantasy roster before Draft #3 which is followed by the players I selected with my draft picks in the MLB Free Agent and MiLB Draft respectively. I have divided up my team below between the MLB and MiLB rosters. I have also included the roster rules for MiLB player status to help out. Be sure to check out my team, and as always any comments or advice are welcome!!

Team Name : Los Angeles Dodgers 


·     C -   Geovany Soto

·     1B – Lance Berkman

·     2B - Gordon Beckham

·     3B – Evan Longoria     

·     SS – Rafael Furcal

·     OF – Alex Rios

·     OF – Adam Jones

·     OF – Delmon Young

·     U  -  Austin Jackson

·     U -   Manny Ramirez

·     BN – Carlos Quentin

·     BN – Ian Stewart


·     SP – Jon Lester

·     SP – Chris Carpenter

·     P -   Trevor Cahill

·     P -   Jaime Garcia

·     P -   Rick Porcello

·     P -   Fernando Rodney

·     RP – Ryan Franklin

·     RP – John Axford

·     BN – Johan Santana


Free Agent Draft Picks:
SP – A.J Burnett, NYY - Taking a chance that he returns to form, possible trade bait.
SP – Brett Cecil, TOR - Hoping for successful follow-up season to 15 wins a year ago. Underrated.
OF – Cameron Maybin, SDG - 24 y.o., 5 tool player, but little success at MLB level, hoping for breakout season.

Minor League Draft Picks:
SS - Manny Machado, BAL 
1B/OF - Jonathan Singleton, PHI
SP - Zach Lee, LAD

Minor League players dropped after the conclusion of the draft:
OF-Slade Heathcott, NYY
OF-Carlos Peguero, SEA
SP-Phillippe Aumont,PHI

Minor League players signed as replacements:
OF- Michael Choice, OAK
SP-Felix Jorge, MIN
3B-Nick Castellanos, DET




MiLB Rules:
- Minor League Batters must have no more then 300 career at bats in the majors
- Minor League SPs must have no more then 150 career innings pitched in the majors
- Minor League RPs must have no more then 75 innings pitched
- Minor League Swingmen (eligible at SP and RP) lose their eligibility at 100 Innings pitched
- Once a player exceeds the eligibility for Minor League status, that player must be either brought up to the Major League Roster, be traded or put on waivers within 7 days after exceeding the rules.
-once 2011 MiLB draft is done nobody can add anybody from that draft
- max roster is 15


The players I drafted for the Minor league draft have been underlined below. 
* - Signed as Free Agent MiLB player 

MiLB Roster:
1. KC, C- Wil Myers
2. Phi, 1B/OF- Jonathan Singleton
3. KC, 3B- Mike Moustakas
4. Det, 3B- Nick Castellanos*
5. Bos, SS- Jose Iglesias
6. Bal, SS- Manny Machado
7. Fla, OF- Logan Morrison [206 AB]
8. LAA, OF- Mike Trout
9. Oak, OF- Michael Choice*
10. Min, SP- Felix Jorge*
11. Det, SP- Jacob Turner
12. LAD, SP- Zach Lee
13. NYM, SP/RP- Jenrry Mejia [39.0 IP]
Posted on: March 12, 2011 12:19 pm

2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft #2

Baseball's almost here! As promised here is the second fantasy squad that I drafted last evening. I posted my first team Hanley Time that I drafted last month for, and that team was part of a 10 Team H2H league. In that particular league I had the 3rd overall pick; however, last night when I drafted my second fantasy draft for Yahoo! I had the 10th overall pick in a 12 team H2H league. One other noticeable difference between last night and the February CBS Sports Draft was that every single team owner showed up to draft with the exception of one! They had informed the league owner that they wouldn't be there beforehand. It was an overall impressive showing and the draft took under an hour and a half to complete with 12 teams. It was an extreme change from the other draft where at most 3 team owners appeared at some point to pick their players and that was only 10 teams! Check out how I did drafting last night, and any thoughts or comments are welcome as always!

Team Name : MARLO's_WIRE 


  • C -   Matt Wieters
  • 1B - Adrian Gonzalez
  • 2B - Gordon Beckham
  • 3B - Ian Stewart
  • SS - Alexei Ramirez
  • OF - Jason Heyward
  • OF - Michael Stanton
  • OF - Domonic Brown
  • U  -  Starlin Castro
  • U -   Adam Jones
  • BN - Desmond Jennings (OF)
  • BN - Adam Lind (1B, OF)
  • BN - Mike Moustakas (3B)*Dropped*
  • BN - Cameron Maybin (OF) *Dropped*
  • BN - Sean Rodriguez (2B,OF) *Added*


  • SP - Roy Halladay
  • SP - Jon Lester
  • P -   Mat Latos
  • P -   Jake Peavy
  • P -   John Lackey
  • P -   Brian Matusz
  • RP - Joe Nathan
  • RP - Drew Storen
  • BN - Brandon Webb
  • BN - Jair Jurrjens *Added*
Posted on: March 7, 2011 1:37 pm

Hank Gathers - A Champion's Heart

  In light of the recent tragedy and Wesley Leonard death I am reminded of another tragic loss now over 20 years later. Below is the an article that I wrote back in 2009 as a tribute to Hank Gathers one of my favorite college basketball players growing up who also died of heart-related issues. May both Wes and Hank's memory continue to live on.
“I have the heart of a lion.” - Hank Gathers to Bryant Gumble on the Today Show (1990). Those resounding words will haunt anyone familiar with his tragic death. It's hard to imagine that Hank Gathers has been gone for nearly 20 years, and yet his spirit and love of the game still lives on.    
   Eric Gathers, known as "Hank" to friends and family was born on February 11, 1967 in Philadelphia,PA where he later attended nearby Dobbins Technical High School. He was teammates with Bo Kimble and together they led Dobbins prep school to the 1985 Public League City Championship. But this was only the beginning of an everlasting friendship and eternal bond that Gathers and Kimble would share. Hank and Bo also decided to play their college basketball together as both were recruited by then Head Coach of University of Southern California Trojans Stan Morrison and his top assistant, David Spencer, however once Morrison and Spencer were fired following the 1985–86 season, Kimble and Gathers decided to transfer to Loyola Marymount University Lions.
While attending LMU Hank became a stand-out player and experienced great success. In the 1988–89 season he became only the second player in history to lead NCAA Division I in scoring and rebounding in the same season. Gathers averaged 32.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game that season and was on the fast track to super stardom. He was garning national  attention even in the smaller and relatively unknown West Coast Conference (WCC). But at that time he was a diamond in the rough and was poised to again be amongst the leaders in college basketball in scoring and rebounding for the 1989-1990 season and there was even talk of Gathers as an out right player of year the candidate. Hank had a bright future waiting for him in the NBA as a sure fire lottery pick that year, but ultimately fate intervened.
    On Sunday, March 4th, 1990 Gather's team was to face Portland for a chance to meet in the WCC Championship game. The Lions appeared headed to an NCAA berth and were going to be a headache to deal with for any team that drew them in the first round. This team was talented and with their leader Hank had a chance to shock the World. However, to the shock and horror of fans in attendance Gathers collapsed with 13:34 left in the first half of a West Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinal game against Portland. He had just scored on an alley-oop dunk putting the Lions up 25–13, with perhaps the most exciting play in college basketball. The ultimate highlight reel cut short in a split second as a moment of triuphm turned to horrific tragedy before everyone's eyes. Gathers was frantically rushed to a nearby hospital, however it was too late and he was declared dead on arrival, he was only 23 years old. A later autopsy found that he suffered from a heart-muscle disorder known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Few realized that day as he was rushed to the hospital that this would be the last time that Gathers would ever step foot on a basketball court again, and that he had died playing the sport that he loved and gave so much too. 
Ironically the keys to the Lions' success that season and since Gather's arrival could be attributed to Head Coach Paul Westhead's up-tempo style of offense that relied heavily on three point shooting and limited time of possession. As a team they often shot the ball within 10 seconds of gaining possession, and then would counter their scoring flurries with full court pressure defense which would often force many opponent turnovers. According to NCAA records Loyola Marymount still holds the record for being involved in five of the highest scoring games in Division I History.
    Later on many critics felt that this fast-paced style of play doomed Gathers to his fate, however it was not the first time he had collapsed on the basketball court.
Unfortunately Gather's had previously experienced breathing or heart-related issues on the hardwood during a home game against Santa Barbara (UCSB) on Saturday, December 9, 1989, where he collapsed at the free throw line. Gathers was diagnosed with an abnormal heartbeat or exercise-induced ventricular tachycardia, and was prescribed a beta blocker to help combat this dangerous condition. However, Gathers felt that the medication adversely affected his play, and he soon cut back on his dosage.
After learning of Gather's death the 1990 WCC tournament was suspended and the Lions were given the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament based on their regular season championship. Despite the tragic loss of their team leader and with emotions running high the #11 seeded Loyola Marymount Lions made the most of their NCAA Tournament and never gave up hope.  LMU made one of the most improbable runs to the Elite 8 that year and perhaps in college basketball history other than George Mason's recent Final Four run in 2006. The Lions shot lights out from beyond the arch in defeating defending 1989 NCAA champs Michigan in the 2nd Rd. by an incredible margin of 149-115. They went on to squeak by a tough Alabama team 62-60 before losing to eventual National Champions the UNLV Runnin' Rebels 131-101.
    In honor of Hank, Bo Kimble, who was a right-handed player shot his foul shots left-handed in the ultimate sign of respect for his fallen friend and teammate. He carried on the memory and legacy of Hank Gathers in the minds of college basketball fans across the country who were still mourning his passing. Kimble made all three attempts he took during the NCAAs that year in honor of Hank, and i
t was truly a touching moment not only for college basketball, but for Sports. It showed that human spirit can stir up some magic and when emotions are involved anything can happen. The team never gave up on themselves because Hank wouldn't have wanted them too. When asked about the team's amazing NCAA run Paul Westhead proclaimed “There’s something other than basketball going on here.”
    Today Hank Gather's memory is alive and well and the Gersten Pavilion or LMU's on-campus athletics facility, is known to Lions fans as "Hank's House". Perhaps Westhead said it best at Hank's funeral, "Goodnight sweet Prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

                               #44    ERIC "HANK" GATHERS [Feb. 11, 1967 - March 4, 1990]


Here is the original article - Written 4/17/09:

Interview with Hank Gathers & Bo Kimble (Today Show)

Bo Kimble Free Throws (Tribute to Hank Gathers)

Posted on: February 13, 2011 4:31 pm

Syracuse Orange: A Tale of Two 'CUSEs

  As a loyal Syracuse fan since the mid-1980's I can say that 2011 has not brought much joy to the Orange basketball team. If one only rewinds back to early January they would find a much different outlook for the team that was 4-0 in the Big East including victories over Notre Dame and St. John’s to start the New Year. However, then as the schedule and the teams got tougher the Orange got squeezed. The overall results were as gaugy as the snowfall totals with SU concluding January with four straight losses; the futility continuing to spread into February. No one was prepared for this drastic shift downward in both team moral and gameplay with the exception of Jim Boeheim. The Hall of Fame Coach reiterated the fact that this year’s team hadn’t been tested and weren’t as good as their record would seem to indicate. Despite his team's impressive 18-0 start which saw them rise as high as #3 in the Nation, Boeheim was quick to dismiss thoughts of a #1 Seed or the notion that this year's team was better than last year’s. According to Jim the expectations placed on SU's team last season were warranted and deserved. Fans and critics alike strongly believe that barring a key injury (Onuaku) that they would have reached the Final Four, and possibly even played for a National Championship. He was wary of their early season success and knew that the Big East would provide the barometer as to how good they really were, and then those questions about the team would answer themselves. The 2005 Basketball HOF Inductee knew that the Big East would be a monster conference again this year, and that parity would reign supreme further blurring the line between the top and bottom tiers of the league. Boeheim almost seemed to predict his own team's collapse or rather a crash back to reality. However, I doubt he expected things to get this bad so quickly. There’s little doubt that the Syracuse Orange have struggled lately, and the loss on Saturday to Louisville 73-69 just added insult to injury. The psyche of this team is at a low point, and they haven’t been able to find the answers. This latest loss made it their 6th L in their last 8 games, and yet the team doesn't seem to be responding to Boeheim's challenges in the same way that SU teams of the recent past have. These players seem too caught up in their own media hype and seem more preoccupied with their dunk or pass being a highlight on ESPN’s SportsCenter. They also tend to display their emotions more visibly than past teams whether they are positive or negative and it is impacting the decision making ability often in key moments.  Their opponents seem to be feeding off the general lack of enthusiasm that has seemed to plague the ‘Cuse during this losing streak. There have been too many uncharacteristic mental lapses, lack of focus, and overall effort plays to list. These sudden hiccups tending to occur at the most inopportune portions of games, and unfortunately there isn’t one culprit to blame. The entire team has to take the blame and learn from their mistakes so they aren’t repeated. One of these reasons has to lie in the lack of experience in certain players positions in the 2-3 Zone. The biggest issue in this Zone right now lies in the middle, where they have asked Freshmen Fab Melo and Baye Moussa-Keita to replace one of the great defenders in Senior Arinze Onuaku. Fab Melo doesn't have the conditioning nor experience at this time to be effective in the middle and his lack of activity and discipline has shown. Boeheim doesn't trust Fab at this time for more than a handful of sparse minutes. I feel that the fan expectations on the big man are unfair and unrealistic. His conditioning will improve, but not until the Offseason, and he will develop into a force if he stays in College for several years. This year is definitely a development year as far Jim and his coaching staff is concerned, but the trouble also lies at the top of the Zone. Keita is a threat defensively with the ability to alter shots, but his lack of offensively skills has stalled the offense on occasions where he needs to keep a defense honest. The guards are not as active and the zone lacks the fire and intensity of last year's team. They often defend with their hands down making it easy for opponents to shoot over them and hit a high percentage of their shots.
  The other issue with this year’s team right now is the glaring fact that the team doesn’t have a go-to-guy in clutch situations. The last few games during crunch time this has been evident. The team has been so excited to score that they’ve either turned the ball over or took a low percentage shot that had little chance of going in the basket. It is not often that a team with such a high profile (5<sup>th</sup> winningest program in the history of College Basketball) is left without a big time scoring threat, but the Orange really do not have that this year. Last season they had the luxury of relying on two players; the clutch shooting of Andy Rautins, and the ability to count on Wesley Johnson to make a big play on either end of the floor. Even the last few years before they the team had scorers or players that wanted the ball at the end of games (i.e. – McNamara, Flynn, etc.). While Kris Joseph is a great talent, but it is asking too much for him to change the way he plays his game, he used to be a slasher and now I feel that he shoots too many outside shots. The team is undefined in their roles at key moments in the game, and because of this one play or string of sequences has cost us close games that in the past we would have won. However, during this inauspicious streak the team's effort and performance haven't been entirely obscene. At least they've varied in range from several embarrassing losses intertwined with many thrilling and heartbreaking ones.
  It has really been a tale of two seasons thus far in the 2010-11 campaign for Boeheim's SU squad, and a rollercoaster ride for fans who have become accustomed to winning. In fact, a losing streak had actually become such a rarity for the Syracuse Basketball program of the present day that fans actually felt obligated to boo them at home when they were #4 in the Country! This is just one example of the crazy expectations that are now put on the Orange and I happened to witness this up-close during the debacle that was the Seton Hall game at the Carrier Dome. The expectation for that particular game from a SU fan's perspective was an easy victory. However, I personally didn't feel that it would be a blowout, but rather a close game. The Pirates had very different plans for the Orange, and rather SU was beaten badly in front of their home crowd. Every shot seemed to fall for Seton Hall with many happening to be of the three point variety and once they took a double-digit lead the game was out of reach on that particular evening. The defense for SU was non-existent, and at one point frustrated fans actually booed the Orange, and I must say that I have never been to an SU basketball game where the Orange were booed (The Orange Football team under Greg Robinson was another story for another time though), and I found it incredibly shocking! They were booing a team that was 18-2 and just a week removed from the Top 5 for being down 20 points to a really hot shooting team at home. It made me realize how impatient fans have become and the need for instant gratification that seems to have permiated all College Sports. If your team doesn't compete for a title each year, then they had a bad season, and that is definitely not always true. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes and the learning experience overall that wins and losses are often the incorrect gauge for a team. I still think that a team like BYU or San Diego State who only have a single loss, but haven't really been tested have a greater chance of being upset in the earlier rounds of the NCAAs then a team used to battling in the Big East, and will be ready for any situation. As I look back now I am glad I wasn't one of the fans participating in the booing. I didn't feel it was necessary and it just didn't seem appropriate despite the poor performance that night as after all it was only one game! But this loss in particular stung many fans and made them stop and wonder how good Syracuse was, and if perhaps they weren't as good as their national ranking indicated. Several weeks later I think the team's ability lies somewhere beween their 18-0 start in 2010, and 2-6 slide thus far that has followed in 2011. They are still 20-6 overall which is impressive, but it will be that Big East record of 7-6 that is less than stellar, and ensures them no chance of repeating as Regular Season Big East Champions. 
   It is well documented by ESPN and other Sports media outlets that Syracuse, who had been 18-0 just a handful of weeks ago (they were one of the last four unbeaten teams left in college basketball), and were being given a #1 Seed in Mock NCAA brackets. However, as a longtime fan of the team I knew the high ranking was deceiving, and as discussed earlier Jim Boeheim warned fans to taper the heavy expectations of previous seasons particularly last season's team who were so polished, experienced and unselfish. They were the typical keys ingredients needed to become special, and there was no way of replacing a once in a lifetime ensemble like that squad overnight. The loss of a complete do-it-all player who created matchup nightmares like Wesley Johnson, the sharpshooting capibilities of Andy Rautins, and enormous presence of Arinze Onuaku roaming the Zone were all huge and irreplacement losses. Yet, their departures left room for those to step up and take their places such as Kris Joseph stepping out of his 6th man role and becoming the Star. Unfortunately it is difficult to learn on the job in the Big East and this has shown in their more recent performances and decline in FG defense and points allowed per game. They are going through growing pains in the 2-3 Zone and right now teams have several blueprints on how to beat them at their own game. They are allowing almost free reign and endless options for their opponents to score by taking either inside or outside. Big East teams have responded by hitting nearly 50% from three point range in the recent games against Syracuse compared with fewer than 40% in the games before their first defeat at the hands of Pittsburgh at the Peterson Events Center. This close loss seemed to change the Orange despite being without their star player Kris Joseph. As in the prior game Joseph hit his head violently on the hardwood while driving the lane, and experienced concussion like symptoms forcing him to leave that game. He was held out of the game for precautionary reasons, and the rest of the Orange players weren't ready to step up and handle the pressure of that moment. The following game dubbed "Beat 'Nova II" in the Dome seemed to demoralize SU further and was a factor in the breakdown loss to Seton Hall that began the downward spiral in the rankings. 
  Bracket guru's seem to agree that at least 11 teams have the possibility of hearing their names called on March 13, 2011 during the annual CBS NCAA Tournament Selection Show. Once again the Big East is the juggernaut of College Hoops, and in what was considered a down year for the league that lost players like Luke Harangody, Scottie Reynolds, Greg Monroe & DaSean Butler. Critics will say it is the biggest conference in College Basketball so naturally it will have the most teams make it, but that isn't the case as the Big Ten and Big 12 were considered tougher conferences at the beginning of the season. Few expected UCONN to break out or that St. John's would make a leap under a new coach in Lavin, but Notre Dame has surprised as well. There are so many different storylines going on within this conference that it can be mind numbing to think about all the successes that each team has experienced so far this year and there is still March. Georgetown began 1-4, and haven't lost since then, while the Orange have been the exact opposite starting 4-0 atop the standings, and the team now stands at 7-6 in a logjam with other teams.
   Despite the increasingly grim outlook by many CB critics I feel they may have finally found the lineup that works for both the team’s Offense and Defense. The emergence of C.J. Fair has been the one of the few bring spots during SU’s recent struggles, and having Rick Jackson replace Fab Melo in the middle makes the Zone much more viable, and quicker to the ball. The lineup that seemed to have finally lit a spark under this team was the combination of Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, C.J. Fair, Kris Joseph and Rick Jackson in the 2nd Half of the Cardinals game. While this is a smaller lineup that lacks height and length in the Zone it does allow the team to be quicker on both ends of the court, and then they can sub in Dion Waiters, James Southerland and Baye Moussa-Keita based on matchups and game situations. My final prediction for the Regular Season is that they finish 23-8, winning 3 of 5 down the stretch, but an unstable 5 wins in the last 13 games going into Post Season play. Depending on how they do in the Big East Tournament I believe that they can be anywhere between a #3-#8 when seeded for the NCAA Tournament.
  The good news is there is still time to turn things around as their remaining schedule include several winnable contests against Rutgers and DePaul as well as having a chance at revenge in rematchs versus Georgetown and Villanova respectively. This team also needs to understand that last year's squad was one of the best teams ever assembled by Boeheim, and that they are forging their own legacy this year. If the Orange can continue to learn and develop together then maybe they can make their final push towards March and make some noise in the Big East Tournament and NCAA Tournament. I know I will be still rooting for them whether they succeed or fail. GO ORANGE!




The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or