Orange Watch: A word about bits of SU Athletics

bradAs our top-five basketball team inches closer to its regular-season showdown with conference nemesis, Pittsburgh, The Juice Online offers Orange-tinted thoughts, including the hostile Pitt arena, new scheduling ideas and a sneak peek into the new Madison Square Garden.

Monday night’s game will be played at the Big East’s toughest venue for a road team to win: the Petersen Events Center. If you’ll remember, the ‘Cuse was the first road team ever to win there with a 49-46 in overtime win in 2004.

Please, Orange fans, pay absolutely no attention to media talking heads that annually downplay SU’s schedule for never leaving central New York until January.

Who cares what they think?

Does it matter if games are played in Syracuse, New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or anywhere else for that matter? No!

Coach Jim Boeheim and the senior athletic department staff in charge of such matters have a schedule plan that works best for the program.

With a home arena seating so many fans and an annual budget that counts on the profit the basketball team makes, the team simply has to play most of its pre-conference games in the Dome against both upstate rivals like Cornell and Colgate and other pretty strong smaller (financially speaking) programs like Iona and Drexel.

Throw in an almost-annual appearance in a tournament that provides two additional home games, plus guaranteed spots in the semi-finals at a major arena, and a home-and-home series against another major conference opponent (such as NC State this season) and the schedule is just fine.

It’s even more true with 18 Big East games that include three home-and-home series, two of which are usually top-25 ranked teams.

It just so happened by scheduling quirks this season — the Big East is often at the mercy of pro teams sharing arenas — that the first two conference games were in New Jersey and New York.

Besides, media talking heads have so much programming time to fill, they have to come up with something that’s bound to get people talking positively or negatively. The worst — or best, depending on your viewpoint — reaction to media executives is no reaction.

Basketball and football scheduling: Advocating for two separate entities

There has to be a point this decade in which the Big East turns itself into a confederation overseeing two separate entities; the football-playing members and the basketball-only schools and the smaller Catholic-based institutions.

I’m not advocating a break-up, but when the current BCS football TV contract ends in 2014, the time is right to formulate a plan that adjusts revenue-sharing by football and basketball divisions, while building a schedule that not only has the football schools playing home-and-home hoop games against each other (18 games), but rotating play against three basketball-only schools each season.

This would guarantee that big-name programs appear of the likes of Providence, DePaul and Seton Hall of the confederation on an annual basis.

The new Madison Square Garden: Will it host an NCAA Tournament game?

While sitting in the outdated “World’s Most Famous Arena,” I began to wonder how the state-of-the-art facility will look, once the third and final phase of renovations is complete in 2014.

The building sorely needed a makeover for the last 10 to 15 years since a wave of new multi-purpose buildings have appeared nationally.

When finished, the new-look Garden, which last hosted a NCAA game in 1961, will take its rightful place as a NCAA site hoping to host the East Regional Final as early as 2013. It will also have one of the coolest features we’ve seen for an arena: two sky bridges that are five stories above the action, stretching end-to-end, that will allow spectators one of the most unique views of any venue.

Brad Bierman is a Special Contributor for The Juice Online.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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