The other day I spent 20 minutes in the car behind two big tractor-trailers carrying brand new brewing tanks to New Belgium that’s being built in Asheville. It’s the only time I’ve ever been excited to sit in traffic. It’s difficult to express my feelings about New Belgium’s impending brewery. Giddy, excited, emotionally erect…all of these words are accurate, but they don’t do my feelings justice.And it’s not just New Belgium that I’m excited about. Catawba Brewing just opened a swanky new taproom in downtown Asheville. Wicked Weed started building their production facility on the outskirts of town. Sierra Nevada just opened their taproom and restaurant, which, by all accounts, is plated entirely in gold and everlasting rose pedals.Craft beer is booming all over the country, but there’s so much happening in Asheville, North Carolina on a variety of different scales, that it’s easy to think we’re living at Ground Zero during the Golden Age of Craft Beer. I can walk out my door and hit a dozen breweries within two miles. If you find yourself in Asheville, you can paddle a mellow stretch of the French Broad and hit half a dozen different breweries, big and small. You can mountain bike directly to the door of one brewery, on Pisgah singletrack.We’re so fortunate to be alive now and living here. It’s complete happenstance that I’ve found myself in this town, during this beautiful time in history, when craft breweries are sprouting around me like weeds. Personally, I’ve done nothing to deserve this embarrassment of riches, but I’m going to do my best to enjoy it while it lasts. As they say, all good things must come to an end. In this case, I’m not sure if they’re talking about the craft beer boom or my liver. Either way, carpe beer.
With Syracuse’s perfect start perhaps swaying in the balance, Dion Waiters vaulted in front of Darius Johnson-Odom, determined to preserve it for at least one more game.Johnson-Odom rose for a 3-pointer with just more than four minutes left, making an effort to carry on a Marquette comeback from what once was a 23-point deficit. But Waiters swatted the crucial shot away with his right hand, taking the ball the other way for a layup.The play was a five-point swing. The Golden Eagles’ leading scorer tried to cut SU’s once-insurmountable lead to just one. Waiters pushed it to six.‘If you lose a lead, especially at home, it’s easy to start worrying and thinking about what’s happening,’ SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘And instead I thought — obviously Dion made a huge block, finished it at the other end.’Waiters came up with the big play and some of his teammates contributed in the waning minutes as well, as No. 1 Syracuse (17-0, 4-0 Big East) hung on to defeat No. 20 Marquette (12-4, 1-2) 73-66 in front of a season-high crowd of 25,412 in the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Syracuse played a remarkably crisp first half defensively, holding the Golden Eagles without a field goal for a stretch of 11:13 as the Orange went on a 23-1 run. Boeheim even said it was the best his defense has been all year.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textYet Marquette stormed back. The Golden Eagles never led, but cut SU’s lead to as little as two, leading to some tense moments down the stretch as the Orange scrambled to unearth its first-half dominance. ‘We just came out lackadaisical I guess and not really playing defense,’ Waiters said of the second half. ‘And it hurt us, turned into a ballgame.’The near-collapse came after Syracuse ran laps around Marquette in the first half. In SU’s first game against a ranked Big East team this season, it appeared to be no sweat at all in the first 20 minutes.Marquette forward Davante Gardner bodied Baye Keita in the paint to score a bucket, pulling the Golden Eagles within 12-11 with 13:31 left in the first half. But that would be the last shot to fall for Marquette for more than one-quarter of the game.Vander Blue’s 3 from the right wing with 2:18 to go was Marquette’s first field goal since Gardner’s bucket. By then, SU’s lead had ballooned to 35-15.‘We were playing unbelievable defense in the first half,’ Waiters said.Fab Melo took four charges in the first half — three of them while battling foul trouble. SU’s offense struggled to ignite, but eventually, Brandon Triche and Kris Joseph buried the Golden Eagles with 3-pointers. Joseph led SU with 17 for the game and Triche added 16.With the Orange leading 23-12, Triche missed his own shot, but muscled inside to grab the rebound on the baseline. He found Waiters, who found Joseph — who buried a 3 from the top of the key, prompting a Marquette timeout. Less than two minutes later, a Triche triple boosted the lead to 31-12.But SU’s momentum was sapped soon after coming out of the locker room for the second half, and suddenly, the Orange couldn’t do much offensively or defensively.‘The way they were playing, they weren’t as active, I think, first half,’ Triche said. ‘In the second half they were moving, getting to spots, getting there a little faster. I think they were much easier to guard in the first half.’With three fouls, and not in perfect position, Melo didn’t go hard after Marquette guard Junior Cadougan in the lane, and he made a layup to cut the score to 42-32 less than five minutes into the second half.Marquette’s defensive pressure ramped up as well. The Golden Eagles forced nine second-half turnovers while giving the ball up just four times.‘They drove and we didn’t get in front of them,’ Boeheim said. ‘And part of it’s what they did well and part of it’s what we didn’t do well.’The lead never grew larger than nine for the final 11:33. Syracuse lost its explosiveness on offense and tenacity on defense.Marquette began to hit clutch shots. Blue found Cadougan on the right wing for a 3 to bring the Golden Eagles within 51-48 — and there was still 9:17 left to be played. Boeheim called a timeout, and Marquette’s players celebrated the surge.With SU regaining distance, now up 57-49, Jae Crowder buried a 3 from the left wing, putting a finger to his lips and shushing the crowd as he stared down the Orange bench.And Johnson-Odom had an opportunity to quiet the Carrier Dome again. He could have pulled Marquette within 61-60, bringing the game as close as it had been since it was scoreless.But Waiters made what SU guard Scoop Jardine deemed the play of the game. He kept the Orange perfect after a second half that was far from it.‘When the game got down to the line we made a couple plays,’ Boeheim said, ‘and I think that’s a great thing.’firstname.lastname@example.org Published on January 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: email@example.com | @mark_cooperjr Comments Facebook Twitter Google+