Syracuse Cleans Up Against State Rivals

The fluffy bottoms. The creamy frosting. The delectable taste as you take the first bite. What in the world am I talking about? Cupcakes, of course; specifically, the two cupcake teams Syracuse played this past week in intrastate rivals Colgate and Cornell. All the Orangemen needed was some milk to wash these two teams down, 98-68 and 85-62, respectively. Ah, the joys of an easy November and December schedule in college basketball.

The induction of the easy games against in-state teams was designed to give the student-athletes a little break around final exams and to keep them near home so they could study.

Now, as much as I love to beat teams that look like they came straight off the set from filming Munchkin Land scenes from the Wizard of Oz, the opponents in the opening two months of basketball lack one major thing when I look at them: talent. Most years, I pay little attention to the beginning of the year, only looking to see if the Orangemen were victorious. Not this year, though. These easy games may be the most important of the year for this young and inexperienced team.

With such youth on this year's team, Coach Boeheim must love the chance to teach his players with in-game experience and little pressure imposed by the opposing team. This year, Boeheim's Bunch is getting on-the-job tutorial sessions and learning on the run, preparing for the Big East schedule.

From the beginning of the year, we've already been able to witness many positive things. We've watched as Carmelo Anthony has had his coming-out party, night after night. Four games, four double-doubles, scoring at least 20 points in every game. We've seen the emergence of Hakim Warrick as a bonafide presence. His lanky frame has fooled many, as he has been a low-post presence with his scoring and rebounding and thunderous dunks. He added another element against Cornell, tallying five steals, three leading to rim-shaking slams on the other end. Gerry McNamara is maturing at the point, distributing the ball and finding the right times to launch his silky-smooth three-pointers. Jeremy McNeil has slimmed down and shaped up, and the results have been blocks, blocks, and more blocks. To add to his block party, he also added a career-high 12 points against Colgate. And Josh Pace has picked up where he left off last year, providing all the intangible hustle and savvy you could ask for from him.

By the looks of their baby faces, it would seem fitting to give this group of basketball players some milk and cupcakes. But don't let their youthful mugs deceive you: these boys came to play. And they are getting better every game, maturing into Orangemen, with the emphasis on men.

Cuse Nation Top Stories