Thursday, February 10, 2011

Man, Jimmer would look mighty good in a Syracuse basketball uniform

As I watched the offensively challenged Syracuse basketball team struggle to put the ball through the hoop Wednesday night against Georgetown, my thoughts drifted to Jimmer Fredette.

The Brigham Young guard with the catchy name has electrified fans like a modern-day Pete Maravich without the floppy socks. Able to drill 3-pointers from another area code and befuddle defenders with an array of elusive drives and unorthodox in-close shots, Fredette leads the nation in scoring with 27.6 points per game.

And the reason I was thinking about him last night while watching SU convert just 4-of-16 attempts from outside the arc and score just one point in the final four minutes is that Jimmer could have been an Orange man.

In fact, he wanted to be an Orange man.

And he might have become one had Syracuse not already had a busload of talented guards coming in. Fredette was in the same recruiting class as Jonny Flynn, Scoop Jardine and Tiki Mayben. Flynn, of course, played two stellar seasons for the Cuse before bolting for the NBA, where he now collects a paycheck from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Jardine is a red-shirt junior point guard for the Orange. And Mayben, sadly, failed to qualify academically and has struggled with drug problems.

SU assistant Mike Hopkins said he was well aware of Fredette, who played his high school ball in Glens Falls, a scant 2 1-2 hours east of the Carrier Dome in the Capital District. Jimmer wound up becoming one of New York’s all-time leading high school scorers (more than 2,400 points) while guiding his team to the state championship game. Hopkins firmly believed that Jimmer could play at SU, but the Orange men already had tendered scholarship offers to three guards.

Hopkins was friends with BYU assistant Dave Rice and recommended the Cougars take a look at Fredette because the kid was a Mormon and had relatives in Utah. Rice did, and the rest is history.

Hopkins refers to the recruiting whiff as “the Fredette headache.” It calls to mind another big missed opportunity. Many years ago during his senior year of high school in Canada, future Basketball Hall of Famer Steve Nash sent a tape of his stellar games to Syracuse because he wanted to play for the Orange men. But Jim Boeheim and his staff never responded.

To be fair, Boeheim and Co. are among the nation’s top recruiters. There have been many more home runs than strikeouts through the years. Many more.

Still, imagine how good this dysfunctional SU offense would be with a scoring machine like Fredette in the lineup.

I can guarantee you this: They would not go six minutes without a basket like they did down the final stretch last night against Georgetown.

You may have heard that the Bills are going to unveil new uniforms for the 2011 season (if there is one.) That’s good news because I hate the ones they’ve been wearing since 2002. If I had my druthers they’d wear the retro uniforms from the mid-1960s with the red, grazing buffalo on the white helmets. Of course, any uniform would look a lot better if they had more star players wearing them.

Good news for Yankees fans as we get ready for pitchers and catchers to report: Pitching ace C.C. Sabathia, who had off-season knee surgery, reportedly has shed 30 pounds. He was listed as carrying 309 pounds on his 6-foot-7 frame last season. Which means he was big enough to play left tackle for the Jets or Giants when he wasn’t pitching for the Bronx Bombers.

Perhaps the dumbest take I’ve heard about Christina Aguilera’s botched anthem is that she is unpatriotic. Come on, people, she screwed up the lyrics. It happens to a lot of talented singers and it has nothing to do with the singer’s patriotism. It has to do with being human and making a mistake. My goodness.

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