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Poor Big East schedule hinders Syracuse’s RPI

first_img Published on April 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm And because the Big East conference won’t be awarded an automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament until next year, head coach John Desko acknowledged he would prefer to go up against those other opponents this season. It may have to get used to that frustration. But for this year, the conference does not seem up to par with the Orange. Through the Big East games SU has played, it is beating teams by an average of eight goals per game. And that includes the conference’s second- and third-place teams — No. 13 Villanova (9-4, 3-1) and No. 15 Georgetown (7-5, 3-1). But for now, all players like longstick midfielder Joel White can do is wait and hope that these Big East teams show visible improvement over the conference’s inaugural years. ‘The only thing we can hope for is better competition,’ Thompson said. ‘As the years go on, the different schools are going to get different people, better (athletes), so you can only hope for that, for the league to get better.’ SU players have been emphatic about the polls’ lack of significance during the regular season, as many NCAA athletes are. But this could foretell things to come once the tournament field is set. The Orange might be stuck with that No. 2 or No. 3 seed, giving it a slightly more difficult path to the championship because of its weaker schedule. And Thompson said all the Orange can do right now is hope those conference foes improve over the next couple years. SU has played four of its six Big East conference opponents thus far this season. The level of competition in those games has not matched that of the Orange’s (11-1, 4-0 Big East) nonconference schedule. And with the likes of Providence, Rutgers and St. John’s in the conference, all of whom are in the bottom half of the RPI rankings, playing in the Big East could ultimately hurt No. 2 Syracuse’s seeding come NCAA tournament time. Max Bartig was irritated on Saturday. Despite an easy 14-5 victory over Providence, ‘frustration’ was the word tossed around by Bartig and junior goalie John Galloway following the contest. The Friars used a standstill, milk-the-clock strategy despite trailing the entire game, a style of play Galloway said was ‘not lacrosse.’ ‘Probably this year … because of how it might affect our RPI at the end of the year,’ he said. The current poll might already be showing some of that Big East influence on the Orange. Despite easily disposing of the Friars Saturday, Syracuse dropped down to No. 2. Virginia took over the top spot after winning an ACC conference game over No. 3 Maryland. ‘I think people understood what we were getting into when we joined the Big East,’ Galloway said. ‘I think people also understand that it’s a young conference and it’s going to keep growing, and we still have a very tough strength of schedule.’ The Orange’s nonconference opponents have fared much better. Syracuse’s seven wins outside the Big East have come by only 4.6 goals per game. Unranked Hobart, one of SU’s longtime rivals, took the Orange to overtime before losing on a Stephen Keogh score. Cornell lost on a buzzer-beater by senior Chris Daniello. Many Orange teammates echoed Bartig and Galloway’s feelings in interviews Tuesday. But with the conception of the Big East lacrosse conference this season, SU will have to play Providence as a conference opponent every year. Comments zjbrown@syr.edu The Hoyas did only trail by a goal at one point in the fourth quarter before SU pulled away to a 15-12 win. But they were the only ones to stay close to the Orange. Syracuse’s biggest victory this year was its 20-6 win over the Wildcats, and both Rutgers (5-7, 1-3) and Providence (0-12, 0-4) only mustered five goals against SU’s defense. But that strength of schedule could be better if it included the likes of No. 6 Loyola or No. 10 Massachusetts, teams SU has consistently played in recent years. Taking their places instead are St. John’s, Villanova and Providence, who Syracuse had played a combined five times prior to this season. ‘The first couple years, I think it’s going to be down and I think it may hurt our strength of schedule,’ White said. ‘But at the same time, I think (having a Big East conference) is good for the game.’ Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more