As Van Chew spoke on Wednesday afternoon, there was a sense of irony between his words and the backdrop behind him.Seated in front of a large panorama of the Carrier Dome displaying the kickoff from Greg Robinson’s first game as head coach — Sept. 4, 2005, Syracuse versus West Virginia — the SU wide receiver discussed getting over this past weekend, one of the most embarrassing losses for the Orange since Robinson ceased to be SU’s coach almost three years ago.‘We basically just laid that game to rest,’ Chew said. ‘And during the week we’re just going back to our fundamentals.’Last Saturday’s five-turnover implosion against Rutgers was similar to the game that started the Robinson era against WVU. In that game, a dreadful 15-7 loss for SU, the Orange turned the ball over twice, gained just 103 yards of total offense and went 0-of-15 on third down. All while forcing five turnovers in a superb defensive performance for the losing side.But that game started a 1-10 campaign and set the tone for the darkest era in Syracuse football history. Last Saturday’s loss, though, can just be a blip — a bad day for the SU stock in an otherwise rising season under head coach Doug Marrone.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTo ensure the loss to Rutgers is just a minor downtick, this week is integral for SU. The Orange plays a horrendous — absolutely horrendous — Tulane team. A Tulane team that, despite having two wins, has a coach that’s on the hot seat.The Green Wave lost 45-6 to Army and gave up 33 points to Southeastern Louisiana, a Football Championship Subdivision team that sits at 1-4.I won’t call it a must-win game for Syracuse, but it’s a really, really need-to-win game.‘It’s real important,’ Chew said. ‘Because if we go into the bye week with a losing streak, it’s going to be real bad, and it’s going to sit in people’s heads for the whole week. So we just got to strap up and be prepared for Saturday.’Syracuse needs to knock around the Green Wave. If not, if Tulane hangs around and finds a way to win, SU finds itself sitting at 3-3 at the midway point of the season.The Orange would be a .500 team without a sure win left on the schedule and bowl eligibility not even close to guaranteed. The panic buttons that were pressed after Saturday would be hammered until they broke.‘We’re not really focused too much on the future, but I’d say this is a very important game,’ said Dan Vaughan, an SU linebacker and the team’s leading tackler. ‘We can’t let one loss lead to another, so we’re just focused on Tulane.’Plus, Syracuse should simply be able to knock around the Green Wave. This game shouldn’t be close. The Orange has a goal to compete for the Big East title, and Tulane is borderline dysfunctional. Its head coach, Bob Toledo, spent this week lashing out at naysayers and bandwagon jumpers.But giving up 33, 48 and 45 points to Southeastern Louisiana, Duke and Army could make even the most loyal die-hard consider taking a leap.‘We, as coaches, don’t coach some of the things that are going on,’ Toledo said in a press conference on Tuesday. ‘ … To throw interceptions, to fumble and get beat deep. We don’t coach them to do that, but that’s part of the game. Unfortunately, it’s happened to us, and it’s happened to us numerous times.’The SU defense just forced four turnovers against Rutgers. This is a game to wreak havoc, hit the quarterback, get up a few touchdowns and watch the backups play.Right?‘The one thing that we’re dealing with is again a situation where you’re up on a team and how do you get to that next score to really put the game, to some extent, out of reach,’ Marrone said in his Wednesday teleconference. ‘That’s the situation that we haven’t been in before.’It’s a situation that the great teams find themselves in all the time. The top teams in the Big East this season have done it. West Virginia beat Bowling Green 55-10. South Florida topped Texas- El Paso 52-24. Syracuse failed in its first opportunity to pick up a comfortable win, squeaking one out over Rhode Island.The damage done by the G-Rob era is still visible. Mediocre attendance. A fan base whose belief wavers week to week.Losses to Akron and Miami (Ohio) and a single-digit win over Northeastern define those years.A big win over Tulane would show a difference. And maybe, someday, it could help lead to a new backdrop for players to sit before.Mark Cooper is an asst. sports editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @M_Coops_Cuse. Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on October 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: firstname.lastname@example.org | @mark_cooperjr
Like it has so many times this season, the USC women’s basketball team responded when its back was against the wall.Trailing by double digits midway through the second half, the Women of Troy (20-13) rallied to beat UC Santa Barbara 67-64 in the opening round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. Junior guard Ashley Corral came off the bench to lead USC with 15 points, including four key three-pointers when her team’s season was in jeopardy.“This may not have been our final goal but we’re here to play and win,” Corral said. “Any postseason tournament is another chance to play with your team and play for what you’re about.”Whether it was disappointment over missing the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row or a pesky UCSB squad, USC seemed to be in a lull for much of the first half. The Women of Troy led by as many as six points in the half before the Gauchos made their charge.Sparked by its bench, UCSB closed the first half on a 22-12 run and took a 38-34 lead into halftime. Back-to-back three-pointers by Corral in the closing minutes of the half kept the margin from being even greater.Reserve players Nicole Nesbit, Sweets Underwood and Melissa Zornig combined for 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting in the half for UCSB. The Gauchos outscored USC’s bench 25-13 in the first half.That momentum carried over into the second half, with the Gauchos taking on the role of aggressor. UCSB landed a proverbial punch in the mouth to open the second half, quickly expanding its lead to double digits. Every dead ball and timeout was punctuated by cheers from the UCSB players and fans.USC, by contrast, looked dead in the water.But the Women of Troy — buoyed at times by Corral’s intensity and timely shooting — responded and summoned the energy for one last gasp. USC chipped away at the lead behind the playmaking of Corral and senior guard Jacki Gemelos. With seven minutes left, the Women of Troy made their move.“There was a point where everybody was exhausted,” said junior guard Briana Gilbreath. “[But] because of how hard we practice we had another level. We [picked] up our intensity on defense. The [end of the game] is where we really took over and stepped up as a team.”Four points apiece by Gilbreath and Gemelos helped the Women of Troy break open a 57-57 game. Lockdown defense by the entire team helped USC preserve the victory as the Gauchos scored just four points in the final six-and-a-half minutes of the game.The Women of Troy forced the Gauchos into a bad shot on what should have been their final possession of the game, but a turnover by Corral during the ensuing scramble gave UCSB one last chance.UCSB guard Emilie Johnson, who led the Gauchos with 17 points, threw up a desperation heave at the buzzer that fell well short, allowing the Women of Troy to escape the opening round with a three-point victory.“The key was playing score and time,” said USC coach Michael Cooper. “We didn’t want them to score three, so I thought our defense was excellent, and we did what we had to do.”Gemelos and Gilbreath both added 13 points for the Women of Troy. Gemelos just missed out on a double-double with a team-high nine rebounds.USC moves on to a second-round game on Sunday at 2 p.m. against Nevada.