You know who can go suck an egg? Every single person associated with Syracuse. The only reason Jim Boeheim’s miserable existence has led to even one moment of happiness is that Nick Collison and Jeff Graves went a combined 5/17 from the foul line in the 2003 title game and Hakim Warrick was able to jump across the entire length of the court. The Carrier Dome would serve a much better purpose if it housed the court files of its basketball players instead of their games. My ideal outcome for this game would have been for Eric Devendorf to take a shower for the first time since 1998, but a 90-86 win for the Golden Eagles Alumni team is a decent consolation prize.
If you watched this game and instinctively looked for Wojo on the bench screaming at the team, you’re not alone. This game looked much like a game played by the current Marquette squad. The Alumni hawked up 37 threes, thankfully making 20 of them (!!!!!) and only 22 twos.
In a game of runs, the first quarter belonged to Boeheim’s Army. They led by 6 after the first period after a hot start from deep from Demetris Nichols. In the second quarter, the Golden Eagles Alumni outscored ‘Cuse 29-12. It was a dominating team.
Boeheim’s Army was able to climb back in the third and fourth quarters to the point where the game was tied at 80 at the 4 minute mark with Jerel McNeal fouled out and Jamil Wilson with 5 fouls. As an aside, Jamil Wilson committed his disqualifying foul on a charge call where Hakim Warrick was roughly perpendicular to Wilson at the point of contact. #BanCharges
Here’s where the Elam Ending creates some new strategic elements. The Golden Eagles had the ball with the game tied at 80 with less than 4 minutes left. If they called a timeout, they would have the ball needing to score 7 points to win, but so would Boeheim’s Army. If they played on and failed to score, at a minimum Boeheim’s Army would have the ball with 7 points to go, possibly less. But if they scored, Boeheim’s Army likely calls a timeout needing to score 9 or 10 points in order to win.
Marquette decided not to take a timeout and, at the end of a near disaster of a possession, Travis Diener launched a three from a distance that would make Andrew Rowsey blush. He drained it. Syracuse timeout. Marquette needs 7 points to move on to Baltimore. Syracuse needs 10.
After trading buckets for a few possessions, Marquette had the ball needing 3 points to win with Syracuse needing 4. Joe Chapman put in Jake Thomas as an extra shooter, but had every intention of putting the ball in the hands of Maurice Acker, who had an amazing game. After a couple misses from deep and a ‘Cuse turnover, the Emperor of Milwaukee, Travis Diener, squared up from beyond the arc like he’s done ever since he exited the womb 36 years ago. Buckets. A Marquette basketball team can finally do an accurate rendition of Hairspray.
Even after hitting the game winner, the game MVP could’ve easily gone to Acker, who had 22 points on a 78.6% eFG%, or even Elgin Cook. But what game Diener the award for this game was this answer after the game. Probably the most accurate representation of Wisconsin out there.
The defense will need to improve for the Alumni squad to reach the title game. Anytime the Syracuse offense went above a tempo of “light jog”, the defense had no idea what it was doing. Easy layups were not that hard to come by, as players like Hakim Warrick got about anything they wanted, with light fouls being the only resistance. The only thing keeping the game close was Cuse’s 6-23 effort from three, including 1-16 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) after the first quarter.
Don’t let that damper your mood, though. Marquette is playing meaningful basketball and we haven’t even heard Joe Buck call an MLB playoff game yet. The semifinal will be at 6:00 CDT this Thursday on ESPN against...... three-time defending champion Overseas Elite. I will be yelling on Twitter during that time, and I hope you will join me.