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Grant decides to forgo final two years at SU, declares for NBA draft

The sophomore forward joins Tyler Ennis as SU's underclassmen in the draft.

Yet another piece of Syracuse’s 2013-2014 men’s basketball puzzle decided to leave the program, as Jerami Grant officially announced his decision to enter the NBA draft Monday.

"After extensive discussions with my family and coaches, I have decided to pursue my dream of playing professional basketball, Grant announced in a press release. "I am so thankful to coach Boeheim and the rest of the Orange coaching staff for guiding me throughout my college career, and am grateful to my teammates for two incredible seasons.”

Over his two seasons at Syracuse, Grant started 29 out of 52 games. While he only averaged 3.9 points-per-game and 3.0 rebounds-per-game in his first season, Grant elevated his game as a sophomore, averaging 12.1 points-per-game and led the team with 6.8 rebounds-per-game. 

"We'd like to thank Jerami for his tremendous contribution to Syracuse Basketball over the last two years," Head Coach Jim Boeheim said. "We wish him well in all of his future endeavors."

Grant joins Tyler Ennis, who declared for the draft on Mar. 27, and senior C.J. Fair in the draft. Both Ennis and Grant are projected as mid-to-late round picks. NBADraft.net predicts the Minnesota Timberwolves will select Grant with the 13th pick, while CBSSports.com analysts Gary Parrish and Matt Morre have Grant going to the Oklahoma City Thunder at 22 and Zach Harper has Grant going to the Toronto Raptors with the 20th pick.

“I am excited to start my journey in the NBA, but I also look forward to finishing my college degree,” Grant said. “I cannot thank my coaches, teammates and the entire Orange community enough for all of their support."

SU men’s and women’s lacrosse upset North Carolina

Kayla Treanor led the women's team past the No. 1 Tar Heels, while Billy Ward scored in double overtime to put the men on top.

Saturday marked a monumental day in Syracuse lacrosse history.

Not only did both the men’s and women’s teams beat the University of North Carolina, but the wins came in front of record-breaking crowds.

The No. 3 women’s team kicked things off early in the day, with Kayla Treanor scoring a career-high seven goal in a 12-9 victory over the No. 1 Tar Heels. The Orange (13-1, 5-1 ACC) never trailed during the game, but the Tar Heels never made it easy, crawling back from two- and three-goal deficits multiple times.

Going into halftime, SU held a 6-3 lead going into halftime, and extended that lead to 7-3 a minute into the second half. But the Tar Heels, the best team in the nation responded furiously with a three-goal spurt to cut the deficit to one with 21 minutes left in the game.

Syracuse tried to reclaim a large lead with two straight goals from Amy Cross and Treanor, but UNC ignited yet another three-goal run, tying the game at 9-9 with 12:27 remaining in the game. But Treanor, one of SU’s deadliest scorers, scored two of the last three goals of the game—all by SU—to give the Orange its first win over the nation’s top team in the regular season.

"This game lived up to what I thought it would be: two of the best teams in the country going head-to-head," SU head coach Gary Gait said. "I thought our players performed excellent against the number one team in the country.”

The No. 7 men’s team bookended a fine Saturday of lacrosse with an exhilarating double overtime upset of the Tar Heels. With the win, Syracuse (8-3, 2-3 ACC), clinch a spot in the ACC tournament. After a tense second half where the Orange scored six goals to come within one of the Tar Heel lead,, UNC turned ball over with 23 seconds left in the game. After a successful clear by SU, Kevin Rice tied the game with 10 seconds left in regulation. And one minute into the game's second overtime, Billy Ward scored the game-winning goal, catupulting the Orange into either the second of third seed in the ACC championship.

After the first half, the Tar Heels convincing 6-3 lead after stopping the Orange from scoring in the second quarter. But a quick change of pace by SU in the third ignited a 4-1 scoring run for the Orange to tie the game at 7-7 heading into the fourth. Both teams traded goals in the final period, until Rice finally tied the game up with second left on the clock. Syracuse has now won five of its last seven games, including four wins against Top-20 opponents and three against Top-10.


Tyler Ennis declares for NBA draft

Draft experts predict Ennis will be drafted in the middle of the first round.

Less than a week after losing in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, Tyler Ennis announced he will be declaring for the 2014 NBA draft.

“I’d like to thank Coach Boeheim, the coaching staff, my teammates and the amazing fans of Syracuse for the opportunity to play at a great university like Syracuse,” Ennis said. “I feel this experience has helped prepare me to fulfill my lifelong dream – to play in the NBA.”

Even though he was only a freshman, Ennis gave fans multiple moments of excitment during his 34-game stint with the Orange; None more exciting than his game-winning buzzer-beating three-pointer against Pittsburgh.

Ennis started every game for the Orange this season, averaging 12.9 points-per-game, 5.5 assists-per-game and only 1.7 turnovers-per-game. Many draft experts expect Ennis will be picked in the mid-first round. Kaleb Joseph, a 6-foot-3-inch point guard from Nashua, N.H., looks to replace Ennis next season when he comes in as a freshman next season. 


SU players participate in university pro day

Jerome Smith, Jay Bromley and Marquis Spruill were among 13 SU football players who had one final shot to increase their draft stocks.

Jerome Smith walked out of Manley Field House Wednesday afternoon like he’d just scored the game-winning touchdown for the Orange. With beads of sweat dripping down his face, Smith smiled widely. After a sub-par NFL Combine in February, Smith had cause for celebration: he improved his 40-yard dash time by over two-tenths of a second—from 4.84 seconds to between 4.5 and 4.6 seconds.

“It was a good work out for me. I got better at everything I did at the Combine,” he said.” My numbers at the Combine were horrible, so I knew I had to come back and redo things.”

That included his starting stance, which Smith said he changed before the Combine, but decided to go back to his normal stance after his dismal numbers. Before Wednesday’s pro day, Smith was rated the 23rd running back in the 2014 draft class, according to CBS Sports.

After finishing his workouts, Smith said NFL scouts were impressed by his physical style of football, his ability to catch balls and protect the pocket during blitz packages. Smith said big running backs like LeGarrette Blount of the New England Patriots and Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks carry teams through the playoffs, and that was part of his pitch to scouts.

“I told them all you need a big back to win games,” Smith said. “And they looked at me and kind of nodded their head.”

Smith was among thirteen Syracuse players scheduled to participate in the Combine, which also included defensive tackle Jay Bromley and linebacker Marquis Spruill. Smith and Bromley were the only two SU players invited to the Combine, so Wednesday’s event was Spruill’s first chance to showcase his skills to the 29 NFL scouts.

“I just wanted to show my raw speed and athleticism,” Spruill said. “I achieved my goal for the most part.”

Bromley, who was rated as the 21st defensive tackle according to CBS Sports, recently said he is a top-10 player at his position. And after his pro day, he stuck by those words.

“I don’t know how many d-tackles have 10 sacks,” he said. “I wasn’t in like a WAC conference; I was in the ACC. I didn’t feel like I had much to prove, but anything I had something to prove to myself.”

Bromley said he could find a player on any team in the NFL whom he tries to emulate, but the Ray McDonald and Justin Smith of the San Francisco 49ers are the two defensive tackles Bromley said he really compares himself to.

“I believe I can help any team win,” he said.

Former SU stars were instrumental in preparing the Orange’s 2014 crop for the draft. Bromley and Spruill said they talked to Chandler Jones, Shamarko Thomas and Arthur Jones about the process and the workouts. Smith said he talked to former SU running backs Delone Carter, Curtis Brinkley and Antwan Bailey three times a week to help him prepare. And all of them said the same thing: “Dominate.”

The NFL Draft starts May 8, but the SU players projected to be selected in later rounds on May 10. Only Smith and Bromley are projected to even be drafted—Smith in the seventh and Bromley in the sixth or seventh.

But now that all the timed drills are done, Smith is excited to relax a little and focus on graduating before waiting to hear his name called on draft day.

Said Smith: “I can sit and breathe a little bit.”


Syracuse selected as No. 3 seed in South region

The Orange play 14-seeded Western Michigan Thursday in Buffalo, N.Y.

The late-season slide pushed Syracuse (27-5, 14-4 ACC) down to a No. 3 seed in the southern region of the NCAA Tournament bracket. Syracuse will play the Western Michigan Broncos (23-9, 14-4 MAC) out of the Mid-Atlantic Conference. The Broncos, who won 12 of its last 13 games, won the MAC title over Toledo Saturday, 98-77.

“We are excited to be able to play in Buffalo. I think that’s great for our players to be pretty close (to Syracuse),” head coach Jim Boeheim said during a press conference following the selection. “Western Michigan…They are a very good basketball team. They won a very difficult conference and the conference tournament.”

Senior guard David Brown, who averaged 19.4 points-per-game this season on 41.8 percent shooting, leads Western Michigan. 

Syracuse is coming off a poor end of its season, losing five of the its last seven games, including home losses to unranked Boston College and Georgia Tech, as well as a loss to N.C. State in the third round of the ACC Tournament.

Senior forward C.J. Fair said he thinks SU’s No. 3 seeding is right where the Orange should be considering the team’s recent struggles.

“We had a great year this year,” Fair said. “We had a little losing streak toward the end of the season but overall this season was a success. Going into the tournament you’ve got to just keep fighting and make that one last push."

If the Orange makes it past the Broncos in the second round, SU has a chance to play in Memphis, Tenn., against sixth-seeded Ohio State in the third round. No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Kansas, No. 4 UCLA and No. 5 VCU round out the top teams in the South region.

“You look at any team you are going to play in this tournament now and you have a tough game,” Boeheim said.” “The field is tremendously challenging. There is no such thing as an easy starting game in the NCAA Tournament anymore.”

Tyler Ennis strongly considering returning for sophomore season, according to report

Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy says multiple scouts believe Ennis could stay in Syracuse.

Although Syracuse's season isn't over yet, NBA scouts are already looking at the top Orange players ready to make the leap to the big leagues. Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis is among those players, and NBA draft experts predict he could fall anywhere from an early to late lottery pick.

That is, if he declares for the draft at all.

Alex Kennedy, of Basketball Insiders, spoke to "a number of scouts" who believe Ennis is "strongly considering" returning to play for the Orange for at least another season.

In SU's 28 games this season, Ennis elevated himself from just a freshman point guard to one of the top freshman in the nation. He averages 12 points-per-game, 5.6 assists-per-game, 1.2 steals-per-game and only turns the ball over 1.6 times-per-game. In the final five minutes of games, Ennis has shown maturity beyond his years, especially after a game-winning buzzer-beating three-pointer to beat Pittsburgh on February 12. Up until that time, his statistics in the final five minutes were electric:

If Ennis does choose to stay, he will follow in the path of Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, who last year opted not to declare for the draft after a similarily-stellar freshman campaign for the Cowboys.

Syracuse continues its roadtrip this weekend, heading to Virginia to play the Cavaliers.

Will you be my Valentine?

The NewsHouse team combed campus to see if Tyler and Katy could make loveable first impressions.

What if a stranger approached you on the street with a heart-shaped bouquet of fake roses, asking you to be their Valentine? Would you say yes? Would you walk away quickly?

Katy Beals and I took to the Hill to see how people would react to such a situation. Maybe it was the cold weather, maybe it was tacky fake roses, but the duo received mixed results during their casual competition. 

Perched outside Marshal Square Mall, between Schine Student Center and Newhouse and on the Quad, we tried multiple methods of finding Valentines on cold-yet-sunny February morning.

"Will you be my Valentine? Please? For me?"

"Would you like to be my Valentine? Theoretically?"

Whether they were blunt questions or stealthy ambushes, we received responses ranging from straight-up "yes" and "no," responds such as "I'm late for class" and "Uh ... maybe" and every guy's favorite line: "Sorry, I have a boyfriend."

Will you be my Valentine? from The NewsHouse on Vimeo.

In a competition for yes's, Katy triumphed by receiving eight Valentines from 10 requests. Tyler was not so lucky, only persuading half of his 10 encounters to be his Valentine.

Syracuse replaces Arizona as the nation's top basketball team

The Orange received all 65 first-place votes after defeating Duke Saturday and after Arizona lost to California.

After Cal's Justin Cobb's nailed a game-winner jumper with a second left on the clock against then-No. 1 Arizona Saturday, the nation had already crowned it's new No. 1 team: Syracuse. Hours removed from a dramatic overtime victory over Duke, the Orange (21-0, 8-0 ACC) became one of only two undefeated teams in the nation, joining Wichita Sate (23-0). 

The Associated Press announced its weekly college basketball rankings Monday afternoon, and Syracuse officially stood on top. The Orange recieved all 65 first place votes, the first unaniminous No. 1 ranking since Duke in 2010-2011. 

It's the third time in five seasons Syracuse is at the top of the college basketball world and the fifth time in program history. SU was No. 1 in 1987-88, 1989-90, 2009-10 and 2011-12. For the last eight weeks, only Arizona ranked higher than the Orange. 

Syracuse looks to remain undefeated and keep its ranking alive this week, as the Orange play Notre Dame Monday night and Clemson Sunday night at the Carrier Dome.

Here's the AP top-10:

Top ten fan-made signs at Syracuse's College GameDay

There were signs that bashed Justin Bieber and Duke (simultaneously), as well as great puns created from the letters E-S-P-N. But which one was the best?

One great part of ESPN College GameDay is the signs fans make to display behind Rece Davis, Jalen Rose, Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas. They can be anything created from timely new stories to play on words to just plan weird. 

Here are The NewsHouse's top ten signs seen at ESPN College GameDay, excluding big heads:

10) Jalen told Webber to call timeout

@JalenRose Acknowledge my sign! We all know it's true! #CollegeGameday #NothingAgainstYaBro #OrangeNation pic.twitter.com/EeddY9thjC

9) Get in the zone. Ottozone

8) Duke wears Jorts

7) King of the Loudhouse

6) Duke likes Nickleback

5) Ennis Steals Parker's Naismith

4) Nothing rhymes with Orange but Duke rhymes with puke

3) Duke I am your father

2) Ennis the Menace

1) Bieber is a Duke fan 

Which do you think is the best?

What was the best sign from College GameDay at Syracusee?
pollcode.com free polls 

ESPN College GameDay rocks the Carrier Dome

Rece Davis, Jalen Rose, Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas pumped up a crowded SU student section eight and a half hours before the Orange take on Duke at 6:30 p.m.

If the Syracuse-Duke game Saturday night is the main course, than ESPN College GameDay was the appetizer. Hundreds fans packed the stands behind the GameDay desk, cheering and screaming with signs and banners, creating one of the loudest and entertaining atmospheres on ESPN's weekly college basketball morning show.

"I don't know how many people there were," Jay Bilas said after the show, "but there were a lot."

In front of a backdrop featuring a bevy of bigheads and witty signs, Digger Phelps, former long-time basketball coach at Notre Dame, began pumping up the crowd by leading multiple Syracuse chants.

"Tonight, you will be a part of history," Phelps said," when Syracuse takes down Duke and Dal upsets Arizona!" 

That immediately ignited the crowd into "Let's go Orange!" and "We're number one!" chants. Phelps led multiple other chants, but his favorite was easily the "Who's house? 'Cuuuuuuse house chant."

And this happened 50 minutes before the show even went on the air.

"It's really cool. We're honored to be here," GameDay anchor Rece Davis said after the show. "There was a lot of energy the minute we stepped on campus. Everybody's pretty ready for this game."

With only 30 seconds before the clock struck 10, the crowd buzzed with anticipation. And when the live light on the cameras flashed green, the crowded cheered like they were watching the final seconds in a tie ball game.

Syracuse celebrities came out to watch, and even be a part of, the GameDay experience. Newly appointed chancellor Kent Syverud watched courtside, even chatting it up with Phelps before the show, and SU legends Derrick Coleman and Billy Owens were also in attendance and spoke with GameDay's Davis in the middle of the show.

Each member of the GameDay crew also unveiled their all-class teams. Only two Orange players made the cut, as Jalen Rose picked Tyler Ennis as his top freshman point guard, and Phelps picked C.J. Fair as one of his top senior forwards. 

But the highlight of the show was a taped interview with SU and Duke coaches Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski. While the crowd booed any mention of sight of Duke, they remained quite during the interview with the top-two winningest coaches in college basketball history.

Finally, the crew made their picks for the big game. The Super Bowl, that is. Davis and Rose picked Seattle, while Phelps and Bilas picked Denver. But Rose, Phelps and Bilas all picked Syracuse to win, although Bilas wasn't too convinced with Syracuse, saying he thought Duke was ready to beat the Orange's coveted 2-3 zone.

"I think Duke does pretty well against the zone," he said. Because they can shoot it and they can penetrate gaps, they're pretty good off the dribble. That's really the key in playing that zone, is can you have a playmaker in the middle of it. 

I would favorite Syracuse because they're at home, but that's really the only reason. If this on a neutral court, I think I'd favor Duke."

In just a few hours, the Orange and the Blue Devils will put those predictions to the test, and hopefully satisfy the hungry college basketball fans around the nation.