|1989-1990 Syracuse Orangemen|
|Overall||26-7||NCAA Sweet Sixteen||Schedule Results|
|Big East||12-4||Big East Regular Season Champion||Previous||Next|
Coach: Jim Boeheim
Syracuse would start the season with a very talented team and the #1 ranking in the country. This despite the fact the team has lost Sherman Douglas, the school's all-time leading scorer and the NCAA's all-time leading assist man to graduation, and top three point threat Matt Roe unexpectedly transferred.
The Orangemen were very talented with All-American talent in seniors Derrick Coleman and Stephen Thompson, along with super sophomore Billy Owens and junior LeRon Ellis. The question was who would play point guard for the Orangemen. Jim Boeheim appointed Thompson with that responsibility, and sophomore Dave Johnson would be the shooting guard.
Syracuse started the season 10-0, running most of the competition off the court with several easy wins. They would beat #16 Temple 73-56, and the biggest game of the early season was against #6 Duke in the ACC/Big East Challenge. Syracuse had the formidable task of going down to Greensboro, NC to play the Blue Devils on a not-so-neutral court. The game would be tight, and was tied in the closing minutes. Johnson was fouled with 3 seconds to play. He calmly went to the free throw line and made both free throws, as the Orangemen won 78-76. Coleman would finish the game with 19 rebounds, 7 assists and 16 points, as the Orangemen outrebounded Duke 52-32.
Coleman would also have a triple double in a lopsided win over C.W. Post on December 19th.
The Orangemen would lose their first game to Villanova, by the lopsided score of 93-74. They would go on a small slide, losing 3 of 5 games. One of the problems the team had was that Thompson was far more adept to scoring and finishing plays, than in distributing the ball. The team also lacked a legitimate three point shooter on the team, with both Thompson and Johnson being slashing players. Freshman Michael Edwards stepped in to take over the point guard position, and Johnson would become the 6th man, with Thompson rotating to his shooting guard position.
Syracuse would go on a 6 game winning streak including two huge road wins over #3 Georgetown 95-76 and 70-65 over #15 St. John's. Owens would score 36 points in the win over the Hoyas, while Owens and Thompson would each score 22 against the Redmen. A few games later, the Orangemen would beat #8 Connecticut 90-86 behind Coleman's 29 points and 12 rebounds.
The Orangemen would then stumble again against unranked Villanova and Notre Dame, before putting on a winning streak to finish the regular season.
The season finale was another classic Syracuse/Georgetown game with another record crowd of 33,615. The Hoyas came to the Carrier Dome ranked #7 in the nation, while Syracuse was #10. Coleman would battle the Hoyas' Dikembe Mutombo throughout the game, with Coleman coming out ahead with 27 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists. Syracuse led by as many as 9 points in the second half shortly after Hoya Coach John Thompson was ejected for arguing with officials on the court. The Hoyas did not give up and came back to take a two point lead. With one second left on the clock, the Hoyas' Sam Jefferson fouled Billy Owens at mid court. Owens went to the free throw line and calmly made both free throws to tie the game at 81-81. In overtime Owens would lead the Orangemen to victory, as Syracuse won 89-87.
Syracuse would be the #1 seed in the Big East Tournament. They would beat Pittsburgh in a tough defensive battle 58-55, before easily beating Villanova 73-61 to go to the finals. Nationally ranked #8 Connecticut would beat the Orangemen in the finals in a close game 78-75, as the Orangemen made only 11 of 22 free throws.
Syracuse would face Coppin State in the first round of the NCAA tournament and easily win the game 70-48. Boeheim had benched LeRon Ellis and started sophomore Tony Scott. Scott was the teams best three point shooter, and not much smaller than Ellis. And Ellis had not been playing well recently.
Syracuse would play Virginia in the second round and struggle with the Cavaliers, before finally winning 63-61. Coleman had an excellent game with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. The foul calls in the game were nonexistent, as only Coleman and Owens ever took free throw shots for the Orangemen in the game, making 12 of 15.
Syracuse would struggle with its perimeter shooting in the next game, and have a disappointing loss to Minnesota 82-75, crushing fans expectations of another Final Four. Tony Scott was a mere 3-16 from the floor (though he did have 10 rebounds). Owens and Coleman were a combined 11 of 29. Syracuse outrebounded the Gophers 42-33. Minnesota led 72-71 with 50 seconds remaining when Owens went to the free throw line; he would miss the front end of his one-and-one, and that ended the Orangemen's chances of winning the game. One big factor was Syracuse was only 8-20 from the free throw line for the game.
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