December freaking first and not a snowflake in sight. The forecast for Breckenwolf, the tiny ski hill that graciously hosts our weekly Whiskey Wednesday forays, shows temps in the mid 60s throughout the weekend. I’m wearing shorts right now. And a Hawaiian shirt. I might go get on the river later. December freaking first and not a ski day in sight. How am I supposed to start celebrating Whiskey Wednesday without any snow? Without the world’s slowest lift running at Breckenwolf? I’m an optimist, so in my heart I know that winter will eventually come, and it might even be the epic kind of winter where I get to ski from my house to the bars in town, but I want Jack Frost here now. I’m like a kid who can’t wait for Christmas. I want to get the band back together. I want to start doing stupid shit with my fellow middle-aged fathers in the middle of the week. I want to bitch about how cold my hands are when I pull the flask of whiskey out of my pocket on the lift. I want to scout sketchy jumps on the side of trails and then use a proven recipe of peer pressure and child-like taunting to convince my friends to hit those jumps at high speeds. I want Whiskey Wednesday now. Of course, no amount of wanting will make it happen. So, I’ll simply sit here in my shorts, getting pissed when the air conditioning turns on in my house and search the internet for half-ass long range weather forecasts that promise unusual amounts of snow for the Southeastern United States. And I’ll drink this beer, New Belgium’s limited release Sour Saison, because it’s not a winter beer at all. It’s a light, almost whimsical, warm weather beer that blends an easy drinking farmhouse ale with a sour for an interesting mix that can only be described as “rustic.” It’s bright, and only slightly sour, like a green apple, and delicious. As much as I like this beer, I’d like to be drinking barrel aged stouts and porters with gingerbread spices because it’s winter, but those heavy beers just don’t feel right given the current temps. I can’t put on holiday weight when I’m still trapesing around the neighborhood in running shorts. So I’ll wait. Patiently (not that patiently). Until the snow falls and Whiskey Wednesday kicks in and then I can start drinking like a proper adult who’s trying to avoid his responsibilities for one night a week.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim dubbed Battle’s performance “tremendous,” saying his freshman guard looked healthy and able to move for the first time since his flu cropped up. Boeheim’s never been shy to publicly criticize his players, but over the past couple of weeks, he didn’t fire any press conference zingers at Battle. And even though Battle scored only 22 points over his previous four games, he knew he wasn’t going to get the best out of the freshman until he was healthy.But on this night, Boeheim didn’t have cover for Battle. He did all of the talking himself.“(This game) definitely proves my point,” Battle said. “… I’m back.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ UPDATED: Feb. 23, 2017 at 4:35 p.m.When he could finally relax, Tyus Battle leaned back in his locker room chair and flashed a wide smile. It was a kind of happiness the freshman hadn’t shown since hitting his buzzer-beater at Clemson on Feb. 7. But finally, after scoring 18 points and keying an upset over No. 10 Duke, Battle could admit something that had been bugging him for weeks: He was tired of hearing about his illness.Tired of having an excuse. Tired of being strapped down by a flu that sunk him into an 8-of-27 shooting slump over the past four games. Tired of being unable to show he’s the versatile offensive threat he’s proved he could be for three months.On Wednesday night, the only thing sickening Battle was thinking about the pile of questions he faced about his health.“Yeah, I definitely did (get tired of hearing about my illness),” Battle said. “I was trying to keep the flu a little bit low. You don’t like to make excuses.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange didn’t need to offer any explanations for another thriller in the Carrier Dome. Guards Battle and John Gillon took over for much of the second half, allowing SU to score more than double the 25 points it did in the first frame. Ultimately it was Gillon who took the reins last, banking in a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to vault Syracuse (17-12, 9-7 Atlantic Coast) past No. 10 Duke (22-6, 10-5). The game will be remembered for Gillon’s signature moment, but it’s one that could not have happened without the contributions of Battle.The 6-foot-6 freshman was crucial against a Blue Devils defense that didn’t yield much space around the arc. Battle’s step-back jumper has become a specialty of his, and it was never more vital when he freed himself from Luke Kennard to splash in a game-tying basket with 2:02 left on the clock.That set the stage for Gillon’s heroics and a game that nudges the Orange a little closer to an NCAA Tournament bid.“He put on his big boy pants in the middle of the second half,” freshman Taurean Thompson said of Battle. “He just kept going to the basket. He kept putting points on the board so we just kept giving it to him.”Jessica Sheldon | Staff PhotographerAt first it looked as if Battle wasn’t going to play much of a role at all. In his 13 first-half minutes, when he shot only 1-for-3, the freshman said he was “sleeping” on the court. In other words, he was playing the way he had in the past two weeks: sick.But the proverbial shackles seemed to unhook themselves in one second-half play, when Battle crept into the corner opposite of Syracuse’s bench. He buried a 3-pointer to cut Duke’s lead to two, and proceeded to score five of the Orange’s next seven points in a two-minute stretch to knot the score at 47.With another two jumpers that each gave SU a one-point lead in the final 5:11, Battle’s shot hadn’t looked as steady since he dropped a career-high 23 against Virginia on Feb. 4.“I think he’s always known that he’s served as that X-factor role for our team,” senior guard Andrew White said. “I think tonight should give him supreme confidence. … He carried our team for a short stretch.”MORE COVERAGEGallery: Syracuse’s upset victory over No. 10 DukeThe Final Word: Syracuse stuns No. 10 Duke, 78-75Syracuse upsets No. 10 Duke with John Gillon’s buzzer-beating banked 3What we learned from Syracuse’s 78-75 win against No. 10 Duke Published on February 22, 2017 at 11:32 pm Contact Connor: [email protected] | @connorgrossman