first_imgBest FreshmanBrandon TricheWithin games, it became the forgotten concern. Jonny Flynn’s early departure to the NBA figured to leave a huge gash in Syracuse’s backcourt. An instant supply of offense, Flynn was the team’s heart and soul. But almost immediately, Brandon Triche assured that all was well. Though he did hit the rookie wall midway through conference play, Triche remained a rock at point guard through most of the season. He was the antithesis of careless, calmly making the right decisions on offense and playing a big role in the 2-3 zone on defense. Next year, look for Triche to be counted on as more of a scorer. Best PlayKris Joseph’s layup in GeorgetownWith an old AAU coach he played against playfully jawing at him nearby, Joseph closed out Syracuse’s win against the Hoyas on Feb. 18. The Orange led by 23 points with 12:37 left but found itself only up by one point late. Joseph drew Greg Monroe one on one, drove, made his layup and secured the SU win with eight seconds left. Syracuse nearly blew this one. With its frontcourt in foul trouble, the Orange was blasted underneath by Monroe. The Hoyas furiously clawed their way back into a game that was 60-37 at one point. And with one drive, Joseph assured Syracuse would escape with the win.Worst PlayWillie Veasley’s 3 AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe ball stayed in orbit for an eternity. In the West Regional semifinals, Butler’s Veasley launched a 3-pointer that clanked around the rim, off the backboard and ricocheted straight up into the sky. The ball whipped through the nylon and Butler’s rally continued. The shot may forever represent the 11-0 run that dashed Syracuse’s dreams this season. Leading 54-50 with just over five minutes left, SU allowed the Bulldogs to go on a tear. Afterward, Veasley admitted that he thought his shot was going to bounce over the backboard. It didn’t. It ripped through, Butler went ahead 58-54 and the Orange’s title hopes eventually went up in flames.Team MVP Andy RautinsWes Johnson may have been the best player on the team, but when it comes down to most valuable, it has to go to the fifth-year senior. Rautins finished second on the team in scoring with 12.1 points per game but could be counted on for a big basket seemingly in every big game. His passing was excellent all season, and he came just three assists short of averaging five a game. When Rautins wasn’t in on defense, the team usually suffered. Other teams would find weaknesses at the top of the zone and capitalize. Without his high level of play, Syracuse does not return to the Sweet 16, or win the Big East regular-season championship.Best GameNov. 20, 87-71 win over No. 6 North CarolinaMagical things happen at the world’s most famous arena, and this year’s victory against North Carolina counts as one of them. After starting the year unranked, Syracuse clubbed then-No. 13 California in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic to set up the showdown with the defending national champions. In perhaps the most exciting half of basketball on the season, SU trailed the Tar Heels but used a 22-1 run to send the Garden crowd into a frenzy. The world found out just how good Wes Johnson was and saw glimpses of Kris Joseph’s potential. Syracuse entered the Top 10 after this win and never left for the rest of the season. Worst GameMarch 25, 63-59 loss to No. 5 seed ButlerAfter trailing for almost the entire game, Syracuse led 54-50 with 3:54 remaining in the Sweet 16. Just a simple 234 seconds stood between the top-seeded Syracuse and a date in the Elite Eight. Instead, those final seconds turned out to be the worst of the season and ended SU’s run toward a title. Willie Veasley nailed a 3-point shot that seemed destined to land over the top of the backboard, but it instead bounced high and through the net. The Bulldogs went on a late 11-0 run that ultimately ended the season in Salt Lake City. After being 28-2 and No. 1 in the country, Syracuse ended the season 2-3. Butler is now in the Final Four.        Best MomentDec. 5 against Maine‘Best’ is a hard word to define, so we’ll break our best moment into two different categories. Best, as in our favorite, would have to be when Mike Allison, a forward from Maine, completely missed the backboard on a baseline jumper against the Orange. The shot, about 10 feet in front of the Syracuse bench, missed the hoop and the side of the backboard, eventually striking the middle of the horizontal beam that holds the hoop up. The look on his face was impossible to forget. Best, as in most impressive, would be DaShonte Riley’s behind-the-back dish to Brandon Triche in Syracuse’s first-round victory over Vermont. It was great because nobody saw it coming — the freshman center was lampooned all week and definitely turned heads with that one. Worst MomentMarch 11 against GeorgetownWith a little more than five minutes to play against Georgetown in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, Arinze Onuaku came tumbling to the court at Madison Square Garden. At first, it looked like any other time the big man has tripped over his own feet this season, but after the five minutes he spent writhing in pain on the floor, there was no question — this was serious. For Onuaku, it unearthed some old demons that lie in his battered knees. The center had to take a redshirt season in 2007 for a similar injury and took the offseason heading into this year rehabbing from tendonitis surgery in both knees. Most Improved Scoop JardineLighter and more agile, Scoop Jardine adopted his role perfectly heading into the 2009-10 season. Syracuse fans witnessed a player with enough maturity to supplement Brandon Triche’s raw talent and handle a daunting Big East full of talented backcourts. Down the stretch, Jardine had the courage to come out shooting when some of his other teammates did not. Grades: POINT GUARD — B:  This is the kind of B you get in a class that just about everyone fails. The Orange backcourt was supposed to be a point of concern, but the tandem of Triche and Jardine stepped up to fill a tremendous void. SHOOTING GUARD — A: There’s no question Andy Rautins was the floor general this year. His long-range shooting and stellar defense were the main reasons the Orange was able to defy expectations and make a Tournament run. SMALL FORWARD — A:  Wes Johnson came into the season with Player of the Year potential and didn’t disappoint. The forward led SU in both points and rebounds, acting also as one of the key ingredients in that active zone defense. Throw in Kris Joseph, arguably the best bench player in the country, and this was Syracuse’s strongest spot in the lineup. POWER FORWARD — C+: Rick Jackson had bouts of inconsistency this year. Sometimes, the power forward’s baby hook would be unstoppable. Other times, his inability to get to the basket and create offense was a problem. CENTER — B-: Arinze Onuaku took over a lot of games this year against undersized opponents. Unfortunately, his roughed-up knees couldn’t hold together for the Tournament. COACH — A: All the accolades say what’s on everyone’s mind. He’s still got it after all these years. Comments Published on March 29, 2010 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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