Orange Watch: NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Notebook – Philly style

Syracuse returned to championship weekend

Item: Traffic nightmare.

Orange Watch has been headquartered in the Philadelphia region long enough to know about the area’s infamous traffic delays on inadequate-sized highways the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76), Blue Route (I-476) and I-95, especially on holiday weekends and on days with bad weather, and has been fortunate enough to carve out its own secret directions for avoiding such headaches.

The NCAA Lacrosse Final Four is back in Philadelphia for the first time since 2006.

Therefore, it was no shock at Thursday’s NCAA Lacrosse Final Four media day at Lincoln Financial Field hearing that the Syracuse team bus was crawling in traffic on the Schuykill as strong storms pushed through, and would be almost 90 minutes late arriving to get the first glimpse of the field, check out the overall atmosphere of the large stadium, and join the three other squads on hand at the annual Final Four banquet, held in this case in one of the stadium’s club dining facilities.

» Related: Final Four runs cap golden year in SU athletics

“Sorry, stuck in traffic,” an apologetic John Desko announced upon walking down the tunnel to the field. Minutes later, Desko could be heard on his cell phone directing the SU equipment truck driver to the stadium, sharing the traffic misery.

Item: Two of the sport’s coaching heavyweights face off for the fifth time in the NCAA Tournament.

Unlike Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski, two close coaching heavyweight friends who would prefer not to match-up against one another (two meetings have produced a 1-1 record in games in 1989 and 1998), but who are scheduled to do just that this upcoming season in the Dome, John Desko and Denver’s Bill Tierney had the exact opposite feeling in the smaller universe that is college lax when Desko took the ‘Cuse reigns in 1999 and Tierney was starting his 12th year at Princeton.

The schools immediately scheduled each other on an annual basis, and when Tierney took over the Denver program in 2010, he knew the best place to take his new team to begin play was the Dome to face the Orange.

“Our seniors and juniors have experienced the Syracuse onslaught personally in the Carrier Dome (SU six-goal victories in ‘10 and ’11), Tierney said on Thursday gazing over the stadium. “We obviously feel we’re a better team this year than we’ve been in the past, and those (the previous meetings) were early season contests.”

Item: Where to eat a GOOD cheesesteak in Philadelphia?

That’s an easy question to answer. Why, Steve’s Prince of Steaks, of course.

» Related: Syracuse needs magic in Phildelphia

Sure, tourist Meccas Pat’s, Geno’s, Jim’s, and Tony Luke’s are closer to the stadium in South Philly, but they’re just that, for tourists. Locals know Steve’s original shop is the best, but it’s hard to find for out-of-towners in its Northeast Philly location.  However, the good news for lacrosse fans in town this weekend is Steve’s recently opened a Center City spot at 16th and Chestnut Streets, just two blocks from City Hall and not far from the SU team hotel on Market Street.

And, no, Orange Watch isn’t on Steve’s payroll. We’re simply trying to help ‘Cuse lax fans find a good cheesesteak while in town.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth 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.