Syracuse adjusts to post-Anthony era

Defending champions have 2-1 mark, miss star who bolted early for NBA

National notebook

December 12, 2003|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

There are signs of Carmelo Anthony all over the campus at Syracuse. From last season's national championship banner that hangs at the Carrier Dome to the replica jerseys of the former freshman phenom - and current NBA rookie sensation - that hang on the racks at the bookstore, Anthony's presence is still felt.

Unfortunately for the Orangemen (2-1), his absence is felt even more.

It began with an exhibition loss to the Harlem Globetrotters during the preseason, continued with an opening night home defeat at the hands of North Carolina-Charlotte and was still apparent during the team's shaky win over Rhode Island last week.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim isn't sure how long it will take for his team to move on with life after 'Melo.

"It's a lot tougher," Boeheim said from his office earlier this week. "Our veteran guys adjusted pretty well and are playing pretty well, but our young guys haven't stepped in and got the idea yet."

Syracuse misses Anthony most for perhaps the least obvious reason - his rebounding. Take away the 10 boards Anthony averaged while playing the small forward position and the Orangemen are being out-rebounded by nearly seven a game. They gave up 55 rebounds in the win over Rhode Island.

"The interesting thing is that we're scoring the same number of points," said Boeheim, whose team is averaging nearly 83 points a game. "Our offense isn't the problem. We've got to stop some people better. That's our biggest challenge ahead. We were a pretty good defensive team last year."

While the scoring load left by Anthony's departure has been picked up by junior forward Hakim Warrick, who is averaging 25.7 points over the first three games, and by sophomore guard Gerry McNamara, who is scoring 20 a game, there has been a definite lack of defense.

"Our defense hasn't been good at all," said Boeheim, whose team is giving up 79.7 points a game, more than 10 a game higher than last year.

With the departure of Kueth Duany, there are also no senior starters on this year's team. But mostly, there is no 'Melo.

"People are trying to go out there and fill in new roles," Warrick said yesterday before practice. "Whenever you have a player like that, there's always a transition. Teams don't really find a comfort zone until late January or early February. We're going through a learning process right now without him."

Warrick tries not to put too much pressure on himself.

"I don't think you can try to replace his numbers or what he brings to the table," said Warrick. "When you start doing things like that, it puts too much pressure on you and too much to live up to. It can really mess with you."

Boeheim has replaced a number of All-Americans over the years, but nobody like Anthony.

"He's just a once-in-a-lifetime player," said Boeheim. "He's the hardest guy we've had to replace because he did it at both ends. He rebounded, he scored, he set people up, he drew double-teams. He defended much better than people gave him credit for."

Missouri's misery

Do you think Missouri coach Quin Snyder regrets the day he signed Ricky Clemons? As talented a player as Clemons was, averaging nearly 15 points a game last season, he might be better known as the guy who brought Snyder's blossoming career in Columbia to a screeching halt.

If last summer's soap opera wasn't enough to attract some NCAA investigators to campus - there were allegations that Missouri broke rules recruiting Clemons and contacted VMI transfer Jason Conley before his former school released him - this week's charges were stunning.

Whether they're true will likely determine Snyder's future.

Clemons, who served 60 hours in jail for two misdemeanor assault charges last summer in a case involving a former girlfriend, had 24 hours of jailhouse conversations taped where he alleged that two Tigers assistant coaches paid him and two other Missouri players, Arthur Johnson and Rickey Paulding.

The tapes were released this week to the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune and St. Louis Post-Dispatch by a local sheriff.

Johnson and Paulding, the team's stars, released statements denying they were paid.

"As tough as it is for me personally not to respond, and for my coaches not to respond, I cannot discuss these allegations," said Snyder, a former Duke player and assistant who is in his fifth year as head coach.

New 'Dogs, old tricks

Nobody told new Georgia coach Dennis Felton that rebuilding was going to be an easy job in Athens. Felton, who was brought in from Western Kentucky to clean up the mess left by Jim Harrick (and son Jim Jr.), found out how difficult things might be this season when the Bulldogs lost Tuesday night to Winthrop.

By 20 points.

At home.

"As a coach, you always understand that you are going to have challenges," said Felton, whose 4-2 team will play Clemson in Atlanta tomorrow. "There are going to be more nights like this right now. I'd like to think this got their attention. I think I'll get their attention, too."

The Associated Press and other news organizations contributed to this article.

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