There's been plenty of discussion recently regarding the hopes of Syracuse basketball fans - is there is any? Is the season over? Or, is there any chance they could still be dancing later this month, and us, the 'Cuse faithful with them. Outside of the Ivy League hope springs until you are eliminated from your conference tournament. Unfortunately, for us as Orange fans, that means we still have to keep our eyes open. We are forced to believe in miracles, because not so long ago we were forced to. But, as we painfully brave games like last Saturdays we have to wonder, what will it take to keep hope alive?
Today the 'Cuse are tied for ninth in the Big East standings, 7-9. There are two more games left on the schedule, so if Syracuse wins those two games, at Seton Hall and Marquette, they will be 9-9, with 19 total wins. A very mediocre .500. Last season Syracuse missed, maybe unjustly, the tournament with a record of 10-6. So, realistically what will it take?
I've been reading two-and-two, that's what ESPN is saying, at least. Those are wins at Seton Hall, and against Marquette, neither of which will be easy. Then Syracuse has to play their way into the Big East Semifinals. I've drawn out a bracket, assuming Syracuse wins the next two games. As the nine seed Syracuse would face Cincinnati followed by Georgetown. Two teams Syracuse as lost to. But, two teams Syracuse can beat. I look at bracket drawn up, and I don't think its impossible, but I think it would be difficult.
Obviously, I am not telling anyone to uncross their fingers, or to quit pulling at your hair, though, purpose of this blog aside, if you begin to feel blood, you should really quit pulling at your scalp and go get a doctor. If Syracuse is one thing, its young. And for me to understand that, I have to put in the fact that only two members of the rotation are older than I am. That's a scary thought. We all expect a lot from this group. Their talent, well, there talent is overwhelming. Throughout the season we've seen glimpses of the teams potential. Early we saw Flynn take a long three pointer to win a game. We have seen Donte Greene make effortless three pointers, and Paul Harris push his way to the basket regardless of whose in front of them. We see this, and then we see Donte Greene miss the rim, we see him brick five or more times in a row. We see Johnny Flynn miss a dunk, when we are all screaming for a layup, and we even see Paul Harris turn his back to defenders and allow them to take the ball and win. We, as fans, become frustrated, we scoff, we cry, we hurl profanities, and us, we are just the fans. They, they are the players, they are the young, very young men, who are weighed and measured everyday based on what happens on that court, and often they are left wanting.
As 'Cuse fans we believe in only two things. We believe in disappointment, but we also believe in miracles. We have to, thats what we encounter when we watch basketball. Other fans, maybe Duke fans, or North Carolina fans, Kansas, UCLA, and many others, believe in other things. Things like, consistency, things like pride. Maybe its easier to be a fan of UCLA, or Duke than a fan of Syracuse, there is a lot less heartache. But, when a miracle comes around, like in 2003, or the 2006 Big East Tournament, I think every fan wishes they could what we feel. I think sticking around for moments like that make us Syracuse fans, but I think that there is another part to that. I think we have to expect it. Its called faith. While the rest of the Big East, and while the rest of the country, and every sportswriter begins to scratch the Orange off their brackets, somewhere deep inside us, still believes.
March 12th, maybe it'll be Cincinnati, maybe it will be someone else. The opponent doesn't matter. This Syracuse team has played with and beaten the best [Georgetown]. They have the potential. We have seen it before. What we haven't seen is two straight games where everything clicks. When Syracuse beat Georgetown, there were no heroes, just a great young team, that clicked. I am not a psychic. I can't tell you with any conviction how many games Syracuse has to win to make the NCAA tournament. What I do know, is that if this team "clicks" for four days, we could witness another miracle. They may lose in the conference finals, and consequently miss the NCAA tournament. But, that semifinal game may be worth it. A friend of mine, David, a big Syracuse fan as well, often poses the question, "How do we measure success?" Now truth be told, its never pertaining to college basketball. But, I think the question applies. What is success for this team? I think we, as fans, can agree, if we see three or four consecutive good games, that this team has succeeded. Come tomorrow night, and next week maybe Syracuse's chances rest upon a miracle, some would call it false hope, but I'm expecting it.
There has been a big discussion on the Syracuse page, arguing over whether Saturday's loss to Pittsburgh was Boeheim's fault for slowing down the tempo at the end of the game, or the players'. I've been a large supporter of Boeheim. He's strategy, although classic predictable Boeheim, gave the team the ball with a lead with the shot clock off. You can not ask for anything else, as a coach, he gave the team a chance to win. It was up to the players to protect the ball and they didn't. I am not saying that everything Boeheim does is right. Many people have also said that they want him to step down, and let Hopkins run things. I think Boeheim has the right to step down on his terms, whether it be at the end of the season, or three years from now. I think he, like Bob Knight has earned that.
Many people talk about next year, rather than this one. Assuming Greene sticks around, as he should, Devendorf and Rautins will be back, we have some good freshmen coming in, and Syracuse will have, not only one of the most talented teams, but also one of the deepest. If this season ends in disappointment, next season could certainly be looked as a fresh start. And maybe it would be best if Boeheim stepped down, and let Hopkins take over a team that could succeed. I'm not saying it should happen, or it has to, but it could be for the best. That's all I will say about it for now.
Again, like I like to say often, thank you for those who stopped by to read this, please post any comments agreeing with or feuding with my opinion. Good Luck Syracuse! I'll be back in town for the BE Tournament. Oh, and if anyone is still tearing their hair out, please, go see a doctor, its not worth it. Chew on your finger nails if your nervous.