Syracuse Orange programs back on the rise

Out of the 25,235 spectators on hand in the Carrier Dome on Saturday to witness Syracuse basketball battle Georgia Tech, one stood out from the rest. It wasn’t former Orange guard Scoop Jardine, 2013 New York Giants first round draft pick Justin Pugh, or former hoops coach Roy Danforth. It was Dino Babers.At the second-largest attended Syracuse basketball game this year, the newly hired football coach from Bowling Green was accompanied by his coaching staff and some recruits, just four days before college football’s National Signing Day. In 247sports latest composite team recruiting rankings, Syracuse has the 60th best incoming class headlined by no five or four star players, but nineteen three star recruits.Although preseason rankings mean little to a fan base deprived of winning results for some time now, the consensus among Syracuse football fans is that Babers is the right man for the task of returning the program to prominence. Not a single down of football has been played on the field in the Dino Babers era for the Orange, but the fans love him, and he loves them back.This was on full display as he attended the ACC hoops matinee not in a press box or courtside, but sitting in the middle of the crowd. Babers’ conversation with Athletic Director Mark Coyle was frequently interrupted by fans eager to share a word or snap a picture with the new head football coach.On the court, the Orange secured a 60-57 win over Georgia Tech to move to 5-5 in ACC play. In doing so, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi moved the team into his projected “Last Four In” for the March Madness tournament in his latest installment of “Bracketology”. The Orange continued to improve their tournament resume with an overtime win against Virginia Tech on Tuesday night.The atmosphere inside the Carrier Dome converged between historical and up-and-coming. The 1974-75 Final Four Syracuse basketball team was honored during halftime, and the first 1,000 students in attendance donned shirts in support of Syracuse legend Pearl Washington’s fight with brain cancer. With the future of Syracuse football in attendance, the future of Syracuse basketball stole the show down the stretch.The freshman trio of Malachi Richardson, Tyler Lydon, and Frank Howard all played meaningful minutes in the close win. In 36 minutes of action, Malachi Richardson garnered Genesee Grande player of the game honors with a clutch performance of 7 rebounds and scoring all of his 13 points in the second half. Frank Howard seems to have a strong grip on the backup point guard role, and after dishing out a career-high six assists, Jim Boeheim noted that Howard “made some of the best passes we’ve seen in years here.” Lydon chipped in with 6 points and 6 rebounds.Looking forward, SU basketball will lose two key starters next year in Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney. However, the promise of the future is much greater than the loss of these players. Star recruits Tyus Battle and Matthew Moyer have both signed to play for the Orange next year. These two will join the team along with the possible addition of another big man in the 2016 class, and 7 foot 2 inch Providence transfer Paschal Chukwu.In terms of football, Coach Babers described his Syracuse vision as playing “a game that’s faster than you’ve ever seen on turf.” From his actions this offseason, Syracuse fans are more than willing to put their trust completely in his hands.After tough stretches as of late for both the Syracuse basketball and football programs, both appear to be travelling on the road to success. Orange fans hope they never take the exit.Keith Bremer is a 2015 graduate of Newark High School and is currently attending Syracuse University and is a contributor to FingerLakes1.com. Comments and feedback on this article can be directed to Keith at kbremer@syr.edu.

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