A Reminder Why I Love Sports: Syracuse vs. DePaul 1.30.10

I know that I love sports. Sometimes it’s important to be reminded WHY though. It’s because of the drama. It’s because of the unpredictability of any game. It’s because of experiences like I had today at the Syracuse/DePaul college basketball game. There are so many awesome aspects about the game. I snapped a few pics …(blurry) that I will post, but I must have said twenty times coming out of the stadium “God, I love sports”

I went to the game with my ex-roomate, Kevin. We lived together at graduate school and  graduated from the Newhouse school at Syracuse University (I in public relations, he in Broadcast Journalism) in May of 2009. I think it’s important to distinguish this because, we are not casual fans. We are alums. We have Syracuse in our blood…especially the basketball program. So we made plans to hike the 15 miles outside the city of Chicago to Rosemont where DePaul plays. Let’s talk about this for a second, I think it cuts an athletic program at its knees to not be accessible to its fans by not having sporting facilities on, or really close to, campus. For students of DePaul, they have to take a college sponsored bus 15 miles outside the city or drive. No public transportation goes to the Rosemont Center. If the students choose to drive, then they are charged $11 to park. (I would not be going, especially as a poor college student) I think that athletics are vital to a college’s culture and, more importantly, it’s vital to a team to have a rabid and supportive fan base. It seems to me that DePaul almost out of its way to discourage a student presence at sporting events. But I digress…..

Kevin and I (SU Class of '09)

At No.4 (soon to be #3 thanks to a Kentucky loss), Syracuse was heavily favored to beat DePaul.We bought floor seats an hour before the game and headed in. The first thing I noticed was how many Syracuse fans were there. I’ve always heard that Syracuse travels REALLY well, but I never got a chance to experience it first hand. I want to emphasize here the amount of Syracuse fans. During the game, the “Let’s Go OR-ANGE” cheers were louder than the “Go Demons Go” (or whatever they say) There were people ordering ‘dome dogs’ at the concession stands, yelling ‘O’ in the Star Spangled Banner and standing until Syracuse scored their first point. The Rosemont was a mini-dome. With a 50-50 crowd, Syracuse had, what I assumed to be another awesome advantage.

this guy cracked me up the whole game

DePaul started strong and jumped out to an early lead. (a lead they would hold until 3 minutes left in the second half) As an avid Syracuse fan, I know that Syracuse is slow to start out of the gate. I mean we are the DEFINITION of a second half team. I started to worry with ten minutes left in the first half, when DePaul was winning 33-17. Syracuse needs to address this problem and fast, many teams WON’T let you make a comeback, no matter how hard you try. DePaul did its damndest to make sure that didn’t happen. They just fell a little short. Other teams, especially Final Four caliber teams, won’t be so forgiving in the future. I was more encouraged at the half time score…35-31. In the last ten minutes of the half, we were able to limit their scoring to ONE basket. Not bad, if I do say so myself. At half time I was feeling confident that, since we are such a second half time, we had dodged a pretty big bullet and were poised to control the second half handily.

Warm Ups

Syracuse opened the second half with an 8-3 run. The defense started to look alive, but it seemed like it might be too little to late, as DePaul’s Walker was KILLING our team. I mean killing us. Walker, scored 21 points for the Blue Demons..all from beyond the arc. I mean BEYOND the arc..a good two or three feet on each one, which happened to be nothing but net EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. He was KILLING us. (Rautins on the other hand was 2-8 and was taking some pretty awful shots. He’s a ball player though and its fun to watch him play HARD. He has developed into an AWESOME leader for the Orange :)) Wes Johnson, delivered a SICK slam. So sick that I couldn’t believe what I saw. (Check it out here)  

Scoop Jardine, who was fairly silent the whole game, delivered the go-ahead layup with three minutes and some change left of the clock.Let’s fast forward everything else. Syracuse is up by 2, there’s 9 seconds on the clock and DePaul has the ball. THIS IS WHAT SPORTS ARE MADE OF. THESE ARE THE MOMENTS THAT MAKE THEM SO GREAT. I sat and reveled in EVERY SINGLE PERSON standing up at the EXACT same time to watch the end of this game. To hear how passionate all of the fans were. and TO HONESTLY NOT KNOW HOW THE GAME WAS GOING TO TURN OUT. To hold your breath for 9 seconds. To cross your fingers and pray for the ending you want. The drama in sports is unmatchable. There was a time out before this play, I turned to Kevin and said ‘this game was worth every penny’ …whether we won or not. In case your wondering, DePaul’s Walker shoots a 3-pointer and misses at the buzzer. Syracuse wins 59-57.

I immediately turned around and told the DePaul fans behind me that it was a hell of game and they can’t be disappointed with the loss. They really can’t. I think this win is awesome for a number of reasons: 1) It wakes Syracuse up. They cannot overlook ANYONE in the Big East 2) It tests Syracuse’s resolve. They saw how hard it was to comeback against an unranked team…they won’t be able to do it against ranked teams 3) It lends some cred to the DePaul program. A program that has been under some turmoil lately with a coaching changes and a reputation for losing. They deserve attention after this game.

Side note: Kris Joseph doesn’t seem to get as much attention as other players, but he’s friggin AWESOME. He contributed 15 points today and he is the best free throw shooter on the team.

There is no high like when your team wins a hard fought battle. I will never forget this Syracuse win, especially since they trailed by as much as 18 at one point. I’ll be talking about this game for the rest of my life. What other source of entertainment can do that to you? 🙂

Did you watch the game on Saturday? Fellow Orange…what’s your favorite part of Syracuse basketball? What do you attribute the closeness of this game to? Talk to me people 🙂


6 Responses to “A Reminder Why I Love Sports: Syracuse vs. DePaul 1.30.10”

  1. January 30, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Great write-up Sam. You made me feel like I was there for a bit.

    You’re right about having facilities on campus, much like the Carrier Dome being a dorm walk away from the action for every on-campus student at S.U.

    Let’s face it. Big-time NCAA TV sports, especially when a school has winning teams, equals alumni endowment fund big buckage.

    • January 30, 2010 at 9:25 pm

      I agree. I think with the Alumni/Sports relationship. I thought I read somewhere that when DePaul was a solid program about a decade (or maybe longer!) ago, they signed their contract with the Rosemont since their facility couldn’t hold enough fans on campus. Kind of backfired a little later.

  2. 3 Kevvvvy
    January 30, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Best written post ever due to how you approached what bring an alum really means as well as how you went in dpeth about the game and a variety of business factors such as how Allstate Arena is far away from campus!!! Great job…I felt like I was really reading an article out of the Trib!!!1

  3. 5 Julie
    January 31, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Great post!! Totally agree about Joseph. All game long, we were going “I love this guy!” What I love most about this team is how someone different steps up each night. Shut Rautins down, and Scoop/Joseph will light you up. They’re fun to watch, period. Can’t wait to see them in person at G-town next month!

    • January 31, 2010 at 8:41 am

      Confession? After going yesterday, I started looking into Georgetown/Syracuse tickets! I was planning on being at PSU that weekend…maybe I should come a day early and go to the G’town game? IF there’s any tickets left.

      I agree though, we are playing a lot more like a TEAM this year, and even though it hurts to lose Johnny, without the go to ‘star’ on the team, it forces everyone else to play a little bit better.

      Miss you! 🙂

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