|1999-2000 Syracuse Orangemen|
|Overall||26-6||NCAA Sweet 16||Schedule Results|
|Big East||13-3||Big East Champions (Regular Season)||Previous||Next|
Coach: Jim Boeheim
Syracuse was going to start the new millennium with a a very experienced team and one of the strongest defensive units in the program's history. All five starters from the previous season returned, though sophomore Tony Bland supplanted junior Allen Griffin in the starting lineup. Seniors Jason Hart, Ryan Blackwell, and Etan Thomas were leading the way, all three starters since their sophomore season, and each an outstanding defender. Thomas was the reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year (and he would win it again) and Hart was a tenacious defender at guard. Junior Damone Brown was developing into a solid player, rounding out the starting five.
The team would also have some depth off the bench as sophomore Preston Shumpert would emerge as the team's top three point shooting expert, making 43% of this shots and averaging 10.3 points per game, though he only averaged 20 minutes a game. Freshman DeShaun Williams and junior Griffin rounded out the bench.
Syracuse would start out the season 19-0, including 9-0 to start the Big East Season. Hart, while still careless at times with the basketball (he would average 3.5 per game), was explosive on the offensive end, and as mentioned a terrific defender. The Orangemen's defense could clamp down on the opposition, holding eleven of the first nineteen opponents under 60 points. The defense would be solid all year, but the offense struggled later in the season. The Orangemen would lose to Seton Hall on February 7th, 69-67, and then again to non-conference opponent Louisville three days later.
The Orangemen would win the Big East regular season title at 13-3, but lose in their first game in the Big East tournament to their nemesis Georgetown 76-72 in a thrilling game.
In the NCAA, #4 seed Syracuse easily dispatched of Samford in the first round behind 17 points from Shumpert and Hart. In the second round they faced #5 seed Kentucky in a defensive battle, with the Orangemen coming out on top 52-50. In the Sweet Sixteen the Orangemen faced the Michigan State Spartans. The Orangemen were sparked by Allen Griffin's penetrating drives in the first half, which helped overcome the double teaming the Spartans were putting on Thomas. The Orangemen were able to build a 14 point lead. However , Shumpert had been hit in the eye (requiring post game stitches) that prevented him from scoring again. And the double teaming of Thomas was wearing down on the Syracuse offense. Meanwhile the Spartans became very hot and accurate in their shooting, making 68 percent of their second half shots, tying the game up 58-58 with six minutes to go. The Spartans would then go on a phenomenal run down the stretch, outscoring the Orangemen 17-0 to finish the game, as Michigan State won 75-58, ending the Orangemen's season.
©RLYoung 2005, 2006