Syracuse football, basketball gives thanks

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Plenty of thanks to go around this year

Thanksgiving offers folks a time to enjoy the company of family and friends, watch some football, and feast on a fine meal. It also presents the chance to give thanks for the blessings in your life. And there’s a lot to be thankful for when it comes to Syracuse football and basketball in 2016.

Final Fours

Yes, that’s plural, as both the men’s and women’s hoops team reached the vaunted basketball promised land. And while neither squad cut down the net that counts the most, the accomplishment marked great progress for the women’s program while also allowing the men’s team to revel in the butthurt of all the “prognosticators” who insisted that Jim Boeheim’s team had no business receiving a bid.

Recruiting

With the early signing period come and gone, fans can breathe easier as Boeheim and his staff landed forward Oshae Brissett and center Bourama Sidibe. Both players ooze potential and should be pillars of Syracuse’s front court in the coming years. Unfortunately, the Orange missed out on point guard Quade Green. Kentucky landed the Philly native after an intense recruiting battle that saw Syracuse court Green for close to two years.

Amba Etta-Tawo

What else is there to say? Etta-Tawo has almost singlehandedly reignited Syracuse’s aerial attack. For the year, Etta-Tawo has 81 catches for 1,304 yards. He has nine touchdown receptions of 43, 47, 4, 57, 30, 72, 68, 81, and 46 yards. The man doesn’t get cheated when he takes one to the house.

Locker Room Speeches

Because it’s worth watching over and over and over.

But for every point of gratitude, there is, alas, a sports turkey. And the Syracuse football and basketball worlds weren’t immune.

Matt Milano

The Boston College linebacker apparently never learned that if you mess with the bull you might get the horns. Such was the case when tough guy Milano started talking smack to Eric Dungey. Clearly, Dungey wasn’t in the mood to talk.

» Related: How to survive Thanksgiving politics talk? Syracuse sports

UConn

In a stunning start to its season, UConn dropped its first two home games to Wagner and Northeastern. That’s right, those were HOME games. In whose house?!?!?! We know, Dino. We know.

Georgetown

Any list of sports turkeys wouldn’t be complete without the Hoyas. In the battle for the nation’s capital, Maryland erased a 68-59 deficit in the final 2:21 of regulation to stun Georgetown. Nothing like losing a game you had won to your bitter cross-town rival. How about following up a gut-wrenching loss with dropping a home game to Arkansas State, 78-72. Well played, Hoyas! See you in the Dome.

The NCAA

Shocker that they make the list. But just so we’re clear on a few things: The NCAA declined to drop the hammer on Baylor over its sexual assault scandal. It took a pass on that little academic fraud case at North Carolina. And Joe Paterno posthumously gets 111 wins restored to his record. Yet, a $300 payment to a Syracuse basketball player from the YMCA results in forfeiting 45 games. That’s not to dismiss Syracuse’s transgressions. But it sort of feels like the Orange was nailed for misdemeanors while other schools were let off the hook for far worse offenses. And that’s why the NCAA is the biggest sports turkey of all.

Enjoy those leftovers.

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About Steve Auger

Steve Auger is a freelance writer whose work has covered a variety of topics including sports, pets, parenting, healthy living, local government and human interest stories. His work has been published on Care.com, Tom’s of Maine, Purina’s Petcentric.com and the Westford Patch. Steve’s been a diehard Syracuse sports fan for over 25 years. To this day, the words “Smart takes the shot” still make him cringe. Follow him on Twitter @Corner_Cube.
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