At one point in your younger years, I’m willing to bet you were warned that “Santa’s watching” every time your behavior took a turn for the worse. Talk about being scared straight. So as you finish up that last minute shopping, kick back with a glass of eggnog and see who’s been naughty and who’s been nice in the world of Syracuse sports.
Zach Mahoney: His gift came before the start of the season as Dino Babers awarded the walk-on a scholarship. And deservedly so. During his two seasons at Syracuse, Mahoney has filled in admirably for Eric Dungey against pretty tough competition in some cases. Mahoney has guided the team against the likes of LSU, Clemson, Florida State, Pitt, NC State twice and Boston College.
Eric Dungey: Last year we asked Santa to bring the sophomore the same gift as this year. Good health. For the second straight year, Dungey finished the season on the sidelines as the result from taking one too many brutal hits. He seems to have taken to Dino’s brand of offense after putting up some monster numbers through the air. But none of this will matter if 20 years from now he has health issues that resulted from trying to convert one too many third downs.
Dino Babers: While Dino’s first season at Syracuse didn’t finish the way he hoped due to not having Dungey for the last three games, he has to be pleased with the signs of improvement. Help appears to be on the way as Babers and his staff is putting together a solid recruiting class of players cut out for his offensive and defensive schemes. Hopefully Santa leaves a few more recruits like Tommy DeVito and Ravian Pierce under Dino’s tree.
Alas, not everyone wakes up to find a huge pile of presents under the tree. Some folks – and you know who you are – deserve the dreaded stocking full of coal.
Football Defense: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a unit which had no depth to begin with along the D-line and saw two of its best defensive backs lost to injury early in the season would struggle to adapt to a system most of the players weren’t recruited for. But 76 points at Pittsburgh? SEVENTY SIX POINTS?!?!?! Still not sure which is more stunning; giving up that many points or the fact that the Orange only lost by 15.
Men’s Basketball: They had four opportunities to make a splash in the out-of-conference schedule: South Carolina, Wisconsin, UConn and Georgetown. And they whiffed on all four. Fine, at Wisconsin is a difficult venue. But South Carolina was in Brooklyn, UConn was at Madison Square Garden and Georgetown was in the Dome. On Pearl Day. And one year after getting clobbered at Georgetown. But the cherry on top is the 33-point butt-kicking at home to a poor St. John’s team. Oh, and ACC play is on the horizon.
Me: Columnists love to use their allotted word space to drop the hammer on some deserving athlete or team. But I think it’s just as important to show up when you’re the one wearing a face full of egg. Consider me punching the time clock. You know, since I’m the one who had a good laugh last month over UConn and Georgetown’s struggles against lesser competition. I might even have gone so far as to refer to them as Sports Turkeys. Yeah, about those two teams. What else can I say but…gobble gobble? *Hangs head. Kicks snow bank. Punches Elf on the Shelf.*
On behalf of all of us here at The Juice, thanks for another great year reading about Syracuse sports. Merry Cusemas to all! And to all, a good night!