Monday, November 12, 2012

Bills grasping for straws; Orange experience memorable weekend in football & hoops

I understand what Chan Gailey was trying to do by mentioning how the Giants were 7-7 and in danger of missing the playoffs last season before going on a torrid tear to win the Super Bowl.
                The beleaguered Bills coach was holding that carrot out for his team, which at 3-6 probably has to win six of its final seven to have a chance of making the playoffs in the mediocre AFC. But just like his team, Gailey’s analogy came up way short.
                 What the coach with the 13-28 record failed to mention, of course, is that the 2011 Giants were vastly superior, boasting a future Hall-of-Famer at quarterback (Eli Manning) and a future Hall-of-Famer at coach (Tom Coughlin). The 2012 Bills, meanwhile, have two journeymen retreads at those positions.
                Each remaining game on Buffalo’s schedule (home-and-away vs. Miami, a road contest in Indy, home games against Jacksonville, St. Louis and the Jets and a home-away-from-home game in Toronto vs. Seattle) is winnable. But given the inconsistency of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the cataclysmic failures of a much-ballyhooed defense that can’t stop anybody, I don’t see this Bills team going anywhere but home following this underachieving season.
                And, given Buddy Nix’s track record so far in the draft, free agency and choice of coaches, I can’t see much reason to be optimistic that the post-season famine will end in 2013. Not unless, of course, owner Ralph Wilson decides to clean house once more.
                (For more of my takes on the Bills, please check out my Channel 8 column at
                Good weekend for Syracuse football and basketball. The football team thrashed previously unbeaten and highly ranked Louisville, 45-26, in a game in which all three Orange units were dominant. SU has to win one of its final two games – vs. Missouri or Temple – to become bowl eligible. The only sad thing about the rout of the Cardinals Saturday is that it was a reminder of what might have been had the Orange not practiced such self-destructive tendencies much of this season. An abundance of turnovers and penalties proved costly in close losses to Northwestern, Minnesota and Rutgers. Otherwise, SU easily could have been 8-2 at this juncture. But perhaps Doug Marrone’s team can salvage this season with a winning streak that includes a bowl victory.
                The backdrop for Sunday’s SU basketball victory against San Diego State on the aircraft carrier deck of the USS Midway was spectacular. But the windy conditions and sun-in-your-eyes shooting resulted in some ugly hoops. The Orange men adjusted nicely to the conditions, eschewing the low percentage, wind-blown jumpers for drives to the basket in a workmanlike 62-49 victory. Picking up where he left off last season, C.J. Fair filled up the stat sheet nicely with 17 points, 10 rebounds and two steals, and sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams had 17 points, four assists and four steals in his starting debut. SU is again going to be very good defensively. Sophomore center Rakeem Christmas had five of the Cuse’s 10 blocks and helped the back line of the zone alter at least 10 more shots.
                I like the concept of staging these outdoor games on the aircraft carriers, though two other contests had to be stopped because of condescension buildup on the courts. Like the NHL’s “Winter Classics” these events take the game back to its outdoor roots. Though, as we saw with the wind, I wouldn’t want to play too many of these games each season because the conditions pretty much preclude you from shooting from the outside. Just ask the Aztecs, who made only 1-of-18 3-pointers.

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