Matthews: The Answer Man Stops By

THE ANSWER MAN DROPS IN FOR A BRIEF VISIT...

RANKING BOEHEIM’S MOST MEMORABLE WINS

Question – Where would you rank Syracuse’s 95-91 overtime victory at Duke Monday night on the list of coach Jim Boeheim’s wins?

You mean out of his 1,039 coaching wins for his alma mater? We’re giving him credit for the 101 wins the NCAA deducted for assorted “violations.” We saw those games. They happened. The team with the most points on the scoreboard when those games ended was the winner.

Here is my version of Boeheim’s all-time most-memorable SU wins. I’m sure many of you will disagree on my preferred order or maybe even prefer other games:

1—Syracuse 81, Kansas 78, April 7, 2003, New Orleans Superdome.

It was the NCAA championship game – the first and only one for Boeheim and SU. Gerry McNamara’s six three-point field goals sparked the Orange to an 11-point lead at halftime. Most Outstanding Player Carmelo Anthony had 21 points.  Kansas star guard Kirk Heinrich missed a three-pointer just before the final buzzer.

2—Syracuse 127, UConn 121, in six overtimes, March 12-13, 2009, in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.

SU’s backcourt was outstanding: Jonny Flynn had 34 points and played 67 of the 70 minutes; Andy Rautins had six three-pointers; Eric Devendorf was prominent with his hustle and trash-talking.

After the game ended at 1:25 a.m., Boeheim said, “It was the greatest game in history.” Exaggeration? Probably. But not by a lot.

3 – Syracuse 95, Duke 91, in overtime, Monday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke came into the game ranked No. 1 in the nation and favored by 17 points. SU was 11-5 and coming off a bad home loss to Georgia Tech two nights earlier...Boeheim packed the zone and dared Duke to shoot from outside. The Blue Devils attempted a school-record 43 three-point shots and made only 9...Duke sharpshooter Cam Reddish missed the game due to illness. Duke star guard Tre Jones was lost to a shoulder injury six minutes into the game. Those are the breaks..SU center Paschal Chukwu had the game of his life: 10 points, 18 rebounds and he didn’t foul out...The refs did SU no favors and Boeheim let them know it without getting any technical fouls...Buddy Boeheim took one shot and banked in a three-pointer...Elijah Hughes heaved in an 80-footer at the buzzer to trim Duke’s halftime lead to 49-48...Frank Howard was great in the second half...Tyus Battle was great all game (32 points)...SU was impressed but not intimidated by Duke’s amazing freshman forward Zion Williamson...in fact, 6-foot-9 (?), 180-pound (?) SU center Marek Dolezaj sacrificed his relatively frail body in an attempt to draw a charge on Williamson. Marek wound up looking like road kill, a gopher crushed by an 18-wheeler, but it was inspiring to his teammates...and Boeheim outcoached Coach K....What was there not to like if you’re a SU fan?

Q -- Some Buffalo Sabres fans believe coach Phil Housley should be fired. Good idea?

A - Of course not. Too many fans have been overrating the Sabres since a 10-game winning streak boosted the team’s record to 17-6-2 on November 27. They’re 6-11-4 since.  The Sabres definitely are on the upgrade but they still have significant flaws. Last season, they had the NHL’s worst record (25-45-12), fewest points in the standings (62) and worst goal differential (-81). This season, they’re 23-17-6. With 52 of 92 possible points in the standings and a -4 goal differential.

I believe a 25-point improvement in the standings this season is a more reasonable goal than making the playoffs. Two more 20-gokl scorers and one more solid defenseman could help Buffalo and Housley earn a playoff berth next season.

Q – How much are you looking forward to Sunday’s New England Patriots at Kansas City AFC championship game?

A – How could any football fan pass up watching this game? One juicy story line: The NFL’s best quarterback of the last two decades (Tom Brady) versus maybe the best quarterback of the next two decades (Patrick Mahomes).

I’d much prefer to see these two Star QBs trade throws in warm weather outdoors or in a dome. But the forecast for Sunday is chilly conditions. Extremely cold weather would figure to benefit the more-experienced Brady, who plays in New England and has played in poor weather many times in his brilliant career. But I won’t be shocked if Mahomes responds favorably to the challenge.

Q – If New England wins Super Bowl 53, do you think coach Bill Belichick and/ or quarterback Tom Brady would retire?

A – I hope so but I think not. They’re too competitive to quit even when they’re on top.

Q – What do you expect D.J. LeMahieu to do for the Yankees this season?

A -- Appear in at least 110 games at second base/third base. He’s a steady fielder. He was the NL batting champion in 2016 (.348 with Colorado). He’s a right-handed batter who likes to hit to right field. He hit a career-high 15 HRs last season for the Rockies. Right field at Coors Field is far more spacious with a deeper fence than at Yankee Field. I figure he’ll hit around .285 with at least 20 HRs this season.

A – Would you like to see the Bills add wide receiver Antonio Brown and/or tight end Rob Gronkowski this offseason?

Q – Sure, why not? Probability: Brown 1 percent, Gronk 2 percent.

Q --Which Syracuse upset victory was more impressive – football over Clemson in 2017 years ago or basketball at Duke Monday night?

A -- No wrong answer, but my pick is beating the football Tigers

Q – How good was Mel Stottlemyre, the former New York Yankees pitcher who died Sunday at age 77.

A – I believe he would’ve been a Hall of Fame candidate had he pitched for the Yankees in one of the team’s glory periods instead of 1964 through 1974, when the team struggled. His career record was 164-139, with 40 shutouts and a 2.97 ERA. He was a six-time All-Star and had three 20-win seasons. And he was a great pitching coach for the Mets and the Yankees.

LIVING IN THE AFC EAST CERTAINLY HELPS THE PATRIOTS...

BUT THEY ARE PRETTY GOOD AGAINST THE REST OF THE NFL, TOO

Residing in the AFC East certainly has helped the New England Patriots.

There is no denying that playing six games against inferior division rivals has helped the Patriots reach the AN\FC Conference championship game for eight straight seasons. That’s an impressive streak.

How much has New England dominated the AFC East since the 2011-12 season?

Regular-season records: Patriots 99-29...Miami Dolphins 58-70 (41 games behind)...Buffalo Bills 56-71 (43 games behind)...New York Jets 50-78 (49 games behind)

Patriots versus each AFC East rival – 12-2 versus Buffalo...12-2 versus New York Jets...10-4 versus Miami

Winning seasons – Patriots 8...Buffalo 2...Miami 1...New York Jets 1

Post-season records – Patriots 14-5...Jets 0-1...Miami 0-1...Buffalo 0-1.

SHORT SHOTS

The Buffalo Bills on Wednesday announced that popular and still-productive linebacker Lorenzo Alexander will return for the 2019 NFL season. That’s a great way to start this offseason.

Regy Thorpe, who played 15 seasons with the indoor lacrosse Rochester Knighthawks and 6 seasons with the outdoor lacrosse Rochester Rattlers, this week was named head coach/general manager for the new National Lacrosse League expansion team that will play at Nassau Coliseum.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, January 16

Tre’Davious White 24...Matt Duchene 28...Mark Trumbow 33...Joe Flacco 34...Jeff Manship 34...Albert Pujols 39...Brendon Morrow 39...Joe Horn 47...Junior Bryant 48...Roy Jones Jr. 50...Kevin Ross 57...A.J. Foyt 84.Kate Moss 45, Sade 60, Debbie Allen 69 and John Carpenter 71 are invited to the birthday party.

Thursday, January 17

Terevor Bauer 28...Nickell Robey-Coleman 29...Tyler Zeller 29...Sylvain Turgeon 35...Dwayne Wade 37...Derrick Mason 45...Derek Plante 48...Jeremy Roenik 49...Chili Davis 59...Tim Bernhardt 61...Preston Pearson 74.  Kid Rock 48, Michelle Obama 55, Jim Carrey 57, Steve Harvey 62, Maury Povich 80, James Earl Jones 88 and Betty White 97 are invited to the birthday party. Muhammad Ali was born on this date in 1942 and died in 2016 at age 74.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

January 17

85 years ago (1934), the New York Giants rewarded pitcher and National League MVP Carl Hubbell with an $18,000 contract...58 years ago (1961), the West beat the East 153-131 in the NBA All-Star Game in Syracuse. Cincinnati Royals rookie Oscar Robertson was the game’s MVP...48 years ago (1971), the Baltimore Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys 16-13 in Super Bowl V...31 years ago (1988), Cleveland’s “Fumble” on Denver’s 3-yard line with 1:12 left and trailing 38-31 in the AFC championship game sent the Broncos to the Super Bowl...24 years ago (1995), the Los Angeles Rams announced the move to St. Louis...20 years ago (1999), Gary Anderson missed his first field goaql of the season as the Minnesota Vikings lost in overtime to Atlanta in the NFC championship game.

January 18

72 years ago (1947), the Detroit Tigers sold slugger Hank Greenberg to the Pittsburgh Pirates for between $25,000 and $35,000...69 years ago (1950), Cleveland Indians star pitcher Bob Feller, coming off a disappointing 15-14 season, suggested a $20,000 pay cut to $45,000 for the 1950 season. The team complied...68 years ago (1951), the NFL ruled that offensive tackles, guards and centers were ineligible to catch passes...61 years ago (1958), Willie O’Ree for the Boston Bruins became the first black player in the NHL...56 years ago (1963), Al Davis became the head coach/GMK of the Oakland Raiders...46 years ago (1973), the Boston Red Sox made Orlando Cepeda the first player signed as a designated hitter...43 years ago (1976), Pittsburgh beat Dallas 21-17 in Super Bowl X...36  years ago (1983), the IOC restored Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals 70 years after they were taken from him for being paid $25 in semipro baseball. Thr=orpe died in 1953 at age 64.

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