|1986-1987 Syracuse Orangemen|
|Overall||31-7||NCAA National Champion Runner Up||Schedule Results|
|Big East||12-4||Big East Regular Season Champion||Previous||Next|
Coach: Jim Boeheim
Expectations were tempered for the season, as the dynamic Pearl Washington had left early, and the graduation of Raf Addison (#2 all time scorer, at the time) and Wendell Alexis. It turned out to be a season of tremendous surprise.
Rarely used (barely recruited) Sherman Douglas came out of no where to play spectacularly at the point guard, and a skinny freshman named Derrick Coleman surprised everyone by being a tremendous rebounder. The steady play of seniors Howard Triche and Greg Monroe (Monroe learned the art of standing at the arc and making the three point shot in its inaugural season), along with the improving (though erratic) Rony Seikaly helped Syracuse win a share of the Big East regular season crown. Syracuse started out the season winning its first 15 games, despite the fact that Seikaly missed starting the first three games recovering from a stress fracture. With a very balanced scoring attack, five players in double digit scoring, and a good inside / outside shooting game, Syracuse was able to win the Big East regular season championship. All of their regular season losses, with the exception of one to Pittsburgh, were extremely close. The team had the ability to score a lot of points, very quickly, via a combination of a tremendous fast break, and a dominating inside defense.
In the Big East tournament the Orangemen easily won their first two games. Douglas scored 35 points and had eleven assists in the semi-finals to knock out Pitt (who had twice beaten the Orangemen that season), setting up a matchup with their rival Georgetown. Unfortunately, Georgetown once again spoiled Syracuse's Big East title dreams.
But the best was yet to come. The Orangemen struggled with Georgia Southern in the first round of the tournament, before winning the game. The second round game against Western Kentucky was a laugher with four Syracuse players scoring 20+ points in a 104-86 victory. This game is noteworthy in that Western Kentucky decided the only way they could get back into the game was to deliberately foul Derek Brower, a notoriously poor free throw shooter. The end result was Brower (without the ball) was running around the court, trying to avoid getting intentionally fouled by the Hilltopper's Brett McNeal. McNeal eventually succeeded in catching Brower, and sending Brower to the line. Brower would go 0-6 from the charity stripe. Over the summer the NCAA would change the rules regarding 'intentional' fouls, awarding free throws and the ball back to the team that was fouled.
As the tournament progressed, fueled by some insulting analysis by CBS announcer Brent Musberger, Seikaly put his whole game together, and dominated Florida with 33 points. Keeping on a roll, the team was able to beat favored North Carolina behind another superb effort by Seikaly who had 26 points and 11 rebounds. Coleman stepped up his game with fourteen rebounds, and the Orangemen were able to hang on to the victory. In the Final Four, Syracuse faced Big East foe Providence, who made a reputation for themselves by shooting three point shots with abandon. SU made it an easy game out rebounding the Friars 53-35, with three Orangemen grabbing 10+ rebounds each (Triche, Coleman and Douglas), and headed to New Orleans to face Bobby Knight's Indiana Hoosiers.
It was a great game, both teams grabbing leads. Indiana's Steve Alford was unbelievable from 3 points range (7 for 10), and Coleman was pulling down every rebound (19 overall). SU had a 1 point lead with 28 seconds to go when Coleman was fouled. DC missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Indiana came down the court. IU's Keith Smart sank a 2 pointer from the corner over an outstretched Howard Triche, to give the Hoosiers the one point win, and break the hearts of Orange fans everywhere. Ohhh so close.
© RLYoung 2005, 2006