kcleach's Blog

Golden Eagles fly east for winter

The Cal State L.A. men's basketball team, with SU alum Stephen Thompson, comes to Syracuse in October for an exhibition game.

Colleges and universities across the country are tightening up the athletic department budgets, yet Cal State-Los Angeles feels the need to travel across the country for an exhibition men’s basketball game at Syracuse.

The connection is obvious and heart-warming:  former SU standout Stephen Thompson is the head coach of the Division II Golden Eagles (12-15 last season).  This will be the third trip east in four years for Cal State L.A.; the team stayed close with the Orange in 2008, trailing by just four points at halftime before giving up a 20-5 run at the start of the second half.

Why wouldn’t Thompson keep the team close to home?  Is it a chance for the team to bond?  Is it a recruiting trip?  There is just one player on the current Golden Eagle roster from outside of California (sophomore forward Leland Jones is from Texas).

And is there something to be said for equality?  Billie Jean King is Cal State L.A.’s most famous alum and a champion of equality for women’s athletics, yet the Golden Eagle women’s basketball team took its exhibition tour to Cal State Fullerton and Pepperdine (both northern California schools).

Bullrush tramples Orange on Homecoming

Mistakes on offense proved deadly for Syracuse Saturday, as the Orange fell to undefeated South Florida in the Big East opener for both teams.

Plenty of Homecoming and Big East talk filled the Carrier Dome with the air of expectation on Saturday, only to see the turnover-prone football team leave the door open and the South Florida Bulls ran right on through.  USF (5-0, 1-0 Big East) defeated Syracuse, 34-20, getting two rushing touchdown from Mike Ford while freshman B.J. Daniels accounted for two passing scores. The Orange fall to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the Big East.

SLIPPERY WHEN NOT WET: Cold rain fell in Onondaga County this week and the poor field conditions in the Dome produced five total turnovers in the opening four minutes (considerable tongue-in-cheek there, folks).  The Bulls shored up their issues, but SU continued to give up possession:  the Orange accounted for seven turnovers (two fumbles and five interceptions, tying a program record established vs. Pitt in 1981); the Duece made his first mark in the SU record book, tying Todd Norley who also tossed a quintet, at Penn State in 1982.

MIKE WILLIAMS: The SU senior again a main player on the big stage:  13 catches for 186 yards with two touchdowns.  Williams extended streak to 25 consecutive games with a pass reception (fourth all-time at Syracuse; Scott Schwedes holds the record at 40).  M-Dubz showed the ability to make plays:  an adjustment to come back for underthrown ball in first quarter set up SU field goal, lowered helmet to get first down resulting in another Orange score, and rose up between two USF defenders to snare a touchdown at the end of half.  His stop-and-go route in the fourth quarter created enough space for Williams snag his second acrobatic touchdown reception.  Williams has 19 career touchdown catches, third all-time behind NFL receivers Rob Moore ’89 (record 22 TD receptions) and Marvin Harrison ’95.

DON’T GET DEFENSIVE:  NFL scouts again dotted the Carrier Dome press box, feverishly following the play of Orange defensive tackler Arthur Jones and South Florida All-American George Selvie.  Representatives from the New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans witnessed Jones recover two fumbles in the first half (an obviously banged-up Jones was ineffective in the second half). Selvie, widely considered the top pass-rusher in college football, was held in check until the third quarter when he nearly ripped the Duece’s arm off, forcing a jump ball that ended up in the arms of a South Florida defender for the interception.

Mike WilliamsDONNIE DITTO:  USF redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels, like PSU’s Daryll Clark, makes SU fans long for the days of Donovan McNabb.  Like Super Five, Daniels can move the pocket, throw a long ball yet struggles to make touch passes.  Daniels came into Saturday’s game with a ton of hype after dismantling then No.17 Florida State, 17-7, in his first collegiate start.  Daniels, also a member of the USF basketball team, burned the Seminoles with 126 rushing yards on 23 carries.  Daniels showed he possessed a strong arm as well, connecting on an 85-yard bomb to Carlton Mitchell with USF’s first possession of the second half.

THEY SAID IT:  “It is an incredible number and we needed all of them for us to win that game,”  -- South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt when asked about SU’s seven turnovers.
    “Give me one-on-one, I’m gonna exploit it,” – Mike Williams, Orange wide receiver


Syracuse senior Mike Williams (Photo: Mitchell Franz/TheNewsHouse.com)

Football Friday - South Florida

The Orange runs with the Bulls on Homecoming in its Big East opener.

The Orange football team charges into the Big East opener against South Florida.

BULL DUNG DEFENSE:  The porous SU defense has been susceptible to quarterbacks that are fleet afoot, having been torched by Northwestern’s Mike Kafka (373 total yards and three TDs). Let’s take one of the running back-turned-linebackers (Doug Hogue) and put a spy on B.J. Daniels.

1959:  The Hillmen blew out West Virginia, 44-0, as sophomore Ernie Davis broke his first Jim Brown record (astounding 15.7 yard per carry average.).  Davis rushed eight times for 141 yards—132 yards more than the entire offensive output by the Mountaineers.  SU (5-0) puts up strong case to move up from last week’s No. 6 ranking.

BOO THE BOOTS:  Did Syracuse just open a pig farm on campus?  Thousands of SU women students are wearing rubber boots on the Hill. “You can even wear them with thick socks in the winter!” Ladies, Halftime Snack used to wear rubber boots at 6 years old, but was actually in muck, feeding pigs.  Can’t wait till having a pet goat becomes fashionable.

SU 31, USF 29 – Entertainment is the reason to hit the Dome these days:  lots of points, lots of touchdowns, violent emotional roller coaster.  As long as Marrone and staff keep the reigns loose on the SU offense, the Orange will win.  Tighten up the formations, or the play calls (Maine last) and the entire team gets tight.

Game of the Week: Southern California at California.  What you think is going to happen, will not happen.  Need that running game to win, even the original John Elway knows that.  Bears get to Trojans freshman quarterback, and take big step back into the BCS picture with a 24-17 victory.

Time of Our Lives:  Homecoming on the Hill will be entertaining, whether you love points or pints.  The game will be long (penalties and kicks are blamed), so join the band on Marshall Street.  

Heisman Watch:  Halftime Snack can start lobbying for a vote in week 5 with Syracuse senior Mike Williams.  Evidence:  28 catches, 437 yards and three touchdowns.  Georgia’s A.J. Green is talked of being the top wide receiver, yet has similar numbers to Williams (25 catches, 428 yards and four TDs). 

They Said It:  "        ” – Bob Costas ’74, speaking off the record to students at Newhouse on Friday night. Costas will be part of a Friday afternoon panel put together by the Tully Center for Free Speech. An ironic world, it has become.
                      “Sy is average in height, weight, and just about everything else except that his brain stops functioning whenever he comes in contact with girls.”  --Marv Albert ’64, writing the first installment of “Introducing Sy Racuse:  Frosh Stumbles on Hill.”


The Big East falls flat

Syracuse athletics is deep within Big East play, so what nuances jump out?

Five things that bother Halftime Snack about the Big East Conference, expressed as the SU teams begin league play:

1) The conference is “the nation’s largest Division I-A Conference,” according to its Web site, with 16 schools.  Yet the largest school in the Northeast by population (Penn State) is soaking up big money and high-quality players in another conference.

2) Weak baseball. Top-seed St. John’s is the first team eliminated in the 2008 Big East Tournament. Louisville returned respectability with a couple deep NCAA runs.

3) The death of St. Johns.  Change the nickname and the claws are removed from this one-ferocious basketball cat.  Dare we say The Curse of Ron Artest? 

4) South Florida is in Tampa.  More like West Florida or Gulf Coast of Florida.

5) The invasion of Duke.  The Blue Devils have set up shop in the New York City-area with yearly games. Can I beat a dead-horse or what?   Pick yourself off the floor and defend Madison Square Garden, St. Johns.     

SU works to become Maine event

Trip to Gerry McNamera's hometown reveals something other than Orange football game.

The search for Syracuse fans watching from afar fell flat; Halftime Snack went to Scranton, Pa. and couldn't even find a piece of Dunder Mifflin paper.

DRIVER BEWARE:  The double reverse by SU was a bad play call at the end of the first half.  Maine is already staying in lanes, looking to limit the big-play touchdown. Why would Syracuse need to go for a big play?  Did the Orange leadership miss the risk-reward discussion with Bob Lloyd on Friday morning? Big loss on the end around leads to a field goal attempt and plenty of time for Maine to explore its offense.

STICKY SPREAD:  Cuse takes the lead with 87-yard drive using two simple things:  wide receiver Mike Williams and running back Delone Carter.  Carter finished off the drive with dodge over the rightside, Big East line plows over CAA line. Why the spread, Coach Marrone?  Hiding successful formations from South Florida and West Virginia? Please go back to one running back and the end-around fakes; the formation keeps defenses in their base, and opens lanes for the offensive stalwarts.

FOUR SCORE AND ONE GAME AGO:  Carter’s emergence into the 1,000-yard club at SU was overshadowed last Saturday by the thrilling win over Northwestern. Yesterday against Maine, Carter certified top billing with a four-touchdown day as the Orange defeated the Bears, 41-24.  The second quartet of his career cemented Carter’s legacy among other talented SU backs.

WHISTLE ON THE PLAY:  Halftime Snack had the perfect plan lined up for a weekend trip south to Philadelphia.  We found a sports bar in Scranton, Pa., Whistles, that guaranteed to have the Syracuse/Maine game on.  This is the hometown of legendary SU guard Gerry McNamara, after all.  It was a promising start; the waitress went to "order the game in the back."  After an order of jerk-flavored chicken wings arrived (not tasting like jerk chicken), the bad news arrived:  Scranton was Comcast Country, and the Time Warner broadcast of SU football would just not mix.  Adding salt to the wound was a large collection of Penn State fans with their game on every TV in the place.  Scrambling for an SU connection, I got my picture with an NFL jersey of a former SU player and Scranton-native Ismail.  Wrong Ismail – I tried to find Qadry and got the Rocket.  Blast! In a pinch, SU All-Access brought game coverage.  That’s a plug—but that is the reality: Division I to Division III, colleges are turning into media engines with money to be made (I paid $6 to watch the Maine game, come see Bob Costas talk about this very issue on Friday).

Maine was 4-for-4 in the trick-kick situations, pulling off two fake punts while recovering a pair of onside kicks. SU assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Bob Casullo has put together a strong unit this season, and seeing how to pull the plays off will help the Orange sometime down the road.

Football Friday - Maine

Syracuse seeks easy win with arrival of Division I-AA opponent.

The Orange football team play the second contest in a six-game homestand.  Saving on travel costs?  Genius, Dr. Gross.

MIKE WILLIAMS: Nice to see Coach Marrone and his staff listened during last week’s Football Friday.  Halftime Snack pleaded and pleaded to get Williams involved earlier in the offense.  The result:  11 catches, 209 yards and two touchdowns (all career-highs) on Saturday vs. Northwestern, the ensuing Big East Offensive Player of the Week award.  Lots of talk about drops all week motivated M-Dubz:  “I’m a receiver, drops gonna happen.  If I drop it, I’m gonna catch the next ten.” 

1959: Syracuse sees another opponent lose top player to injury before facing Hillmen:  Holy Cross quarterback Dick O’Brien’s kidney is removed mid-week.  Needless to say, SU rolls over Crusaders, 42-6, after piling up 485 yards of offense.  This big win should push the Hillmen higher than their No. 8 ranking by the skeptical Associated Press.

ANIMAL RIGHTS:  The Orange welcome the Maine Bears to the Carrier Dome, the largest animal is a run of dangerous mascots in the opening weeks. 

SU has faced Gophers (the Golden ones can ruin a society) and cats, large (Nittany) and wild (Northwestern).  Take a second and consider what you could due to fight off a bear attack.  If you run, the bear will chase you down.  If you climb a tree, the bear will come up the tree.  If you engage the bear with your little stick, well, the bear will take the stick and then turn you into a bunch of little sticks.

THEY SAID IT:  “"My first shot is going to bless the court," Carmelo Anthony, before sinking a 10-footer in a tight-cut flannel button open while baptizing the $19 million basketball facility Thursday afternoon.


            Syracuse 24, Maine 7 – Coach Marrone pulls the reigns even tighter this week, not wanting to give away trick plays and formations.  He will also    look for a chance to play reserves and keep from running up the score on Maine and its SU-based coaching staff.

            Game of the Week – Texas Tech at No. 17 Houston – Halftime Snack can’t pick a score, there are not enough digits on the number pad.  Everything is bigger in Texas, including the high-powered offenses.  Look for Uncle Mike Leach to squash the Cougars early-season dreams.

            Media changes – In 1959, WAER brought out the “Orange Spotlight,” a show featuring campus athletes discussing current controversial subjects.  Sue Edson in SU Athletic Communications, if your listening could we get a show like this added to Orange All Access?  Imagine Andy Rautins giving his thoughts on the public option in health care or Maggie Befort contemplating the candidacy of Stephanie Miner for Syracuse mayor. 

Anthony cuts ribbon on basketball facility

Former SU standout heads opening ceremony of sparkling basketball facility.

Former SU basketball star Carmelo Anthony is building basketball courts all over Syracuse.

Three and a half weeks ago, Anthony dedicated new outdoor basketball courts at Wilson Park, joining former Orange and NFL running back Dorsey Levens and SU head men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim as part of "Courts 4 Kids" program.

Today Anthony will take part a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.   

Don’t fret, SU community, you won’t see your beloved Anthony or the $19 million facility. Both are exclusive:  today's ceremony is for invited guests only, and the facility is just for the SU basketball teams. 

Anthony should be applauded for giving back to a school, and a community, that housed him in a one-year basketball apprenticeship. Halftime Snack has several questions to ask Anthony, but thought Jimmy Kimmel's interview would suffice on Sept. 23: 

Orange volleyball colors Big Red

Beauty and pageantry liven Manley Field House

The Salt City was gray on this Wednesday. 

The colors in Manley tonight, ran warm and bright.

The Big Red from Cornell warmed up first, took the lead with a burst.

Our Orange was mad, Coach Pu was snorting.

Easy point: Homann quick to Morton.

Kacie at bat, Kacie on attack.

Kacie will chase it to the track.

The women so orange, dressed in pure white

Every one plays, the win certain tonight.

Six have dyed, rainbow colors lightly applied

with hair pulled back.

Take a poster, get a hero

Follow them on your iMac.


Kacie MacTavish (Photo: Syracuse University Athletics)

Marrone Era Sees Fruit, Orange Kick Wildcats

Syracuse wins game on last-second field goal.

Let the warm waters of a SU victory was over us!  The Orange pull in the first win of the Doug Marrone era in dramatic fashion as freshman Ryan Lichtenstein’s 42-yard field goal as time expired gave Syracuse a 37-34 win over visiting Northwestern Saturday evening before 40,251 fans at the Carrier Dome.

THEY SAID IT:  “The 12th man played a huge part today,” SU linebacker Derrell Smith, who had 10 tackles and forced two fumbles Saturday said about the Dome crowd.

WHAT A SHOW:  The college football experience went through the roof:  the SU marching band warmed up revelers in front of Hendricks Chapel, the Orange men’s lacrosse team unveiled its 11th national championship banner in between quarters, the Orange offense went razzle-dazzle with two fake hand-offs on a 66-yard bomb to Mike Williams, legendary head coach Dick MacPherson was honored at halftime and the Wave circled the Dome midway through the third quarter.  SU Athletics gave a little something for everyone!

ALL EYES ON YOU:  Three NFL scouts representing the Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were at the Dome Saturday night, mostly likely to get a look at how two stellar defensive lineman were doing:  SU captain Arthur Jones (below, #97 Photo: Syracuse University Athletics) and Northwestern captain Corey Wootton.  Jones was a mad man during the game (two tackles, one for loss, forcing his way through double teams while drawing one holding call against and one scary clipping) and a spotlight in postgame, shining brightly with his smile and his words:  “I love [my teammates], we’re all brothers, I love those guys.”  Wootton used his height (listed at 6’7”) to block a Lichtenstein field goal attempt while recording three tackles.

BEST PLAYER:  Mike Williams.  Halftime Snack is biased in its love for the SU senior wide receiver and all of the Big East will be singing his praise come Monday.  11 catches, 209 yards and two touchdowns—all career-highs.  Williams is as hot as the bright red shirt he wore to the post-game press conference, moving to third all-time at SU with 17 touchdown catches.  “Coach told me in the middle of the week that I wasn’t the receiver I was supposed to be,” said Williams.  “He asked me, ‘Did I lose it?’”  Halftime Snack has a hard time not seeing Williams getting Big East Player of the Week

FASTBREAK FOOTBALL:  The Wildcats brought Arena Football to the Dome, going no-huddle on offense, often with an empty backfield and four, and five, wide receivers.  Quarterback Mike Kafka (35 for 42, 390 yards, 3 TDs) mastered the pace, turning a 17-0 first quarter deficit into a 21-17 lead in just over ten minutes.  Northwestern did not a have a drive over three minutes long until the end of the third quarter.  Big Ten football sure has changed.

BOUNCE BACK:  Syracuse tried its best to shoot itself in the foot.  Four bad snaps in shotgun and three punts dropped, yet no turnovers.  The QB-center exchange was frightening:  the Deuce saw a snap fly past his ankle on third down at the NW 26 and he was able to fall on it and preserve a 43-yard Lichtenstein field goal (career-long).  Same problems occurred when SU had the ball at the NW three-yard line:  the Deuce came away from center without the ball and Orange fullback Cody Catalina wrestled it from a Wildcat defender.  Crazier still:  the Deuce got separated from the ball by a Northwestern linebacker but it bounced up into the hands of SU running back Delone Carter who nearly got the first down. 

Photo of Arthur Jones (#97, above) courtesy of SUathletics.com

Friday Football - Northwestern

Syracuse wraps up Big Ten slate against Wildcats.

The Dome party continues this weekend; Coach Mac and SU lax atop VIP list.


Orange wide receiver Mike Williams is the best player SU has on offense.  Coach Marrone, please throw the ball to him on the first drive.  At Penn State, the ball did not come M-Dubz’ way until late in the first half.  I thought he caught the ball on fourth-and-goal.  High-fived my new friend, Jeff, because the touch down streak continued!  We know, its over.  But can you blame Mike?  Not often a ball hits the SU receivers in the numbers early on, and after stretching for three quarters to reach balls up the elevator, one in the chest leaves you off guard.


The Hillmen dominated their first two opponents, entering the third week of the season ranked first in all three defensive categories and second in total offense (415.5 yards per game). SU found a barometer in Norfolk, Va., facing off with the Midshipmen from the Naval Academy. Named the 11th Oyster Bowl, the rains that day helped the Orange crack the shell of the Navy offense (top-10 with 347.7 yards per game), producing a pearly win, 32-6. 


My student loan money finally came through and I no longer have to search for parking spaces along East Genesee Street.  One drawback – with my new parking lot placement, the morning walk past the Delta Delta Delta house has been eliminated.  The sorority women know how to take care of their property:  recent coat of paint, trimmed shrubbery and clean porch.  Tennis claps.


Orange:              SU 17, Northwestern 14 – Special teams, the top SU unit, makes big play to turn game. 

National Game:  Florida 35, Tennessee 14 – is there a better football coach right now than Urban Meyer?  Is there more of a mad man than Lane Kiffin

Bates Shop:  A lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, I loved watching Bill Bates play kick coverage.  People in this area feel the same about Steve Tasker. Bates’ son, Hunter, is listed as a safety on the Wildcats’ roster with two tackles on the season.  Look where you see #7 on the field.

Tackle Box:  Saturday’s game features two of the top defensive tackles in the country:  SU captain Arthur Jones (6’4”, 293 lbs.) and Northwestern senior  Corey Wootton (6’7”, 280).  Both are coming off injury yet are candidates for the Lombardi Trophy---Wootton is 4th all-time at Northwestern for career sacks (15.5) while Jones posted 16.5 tackles for a loss in 2007.


“…. the shortened news cycle and multitude of new media outlets have made news broadcasting less reliable, while encouraging outrageous online, on-air and in-person behavior in an effort to compete for audience share. “  Dr. Myles Brand, State of the Association, Jan. 20, 2003