Sometimes a team runs rough shot over everyone in it’s path. The smack talk, the undefeated talk and the “look at us, look at us” talk goes on and on and on and on. You hear their fans shout from the top of their lungs, were 23-0 24-0 25-0. As the win’s mount so does the decibel level of their fan base.
The Orange looked like the team to beat, a team that had all the pieces in place and were rolling down hill like the Road-Runner being chased like a bunch of Wile E Coyote’s with no real sense of how to catch them much less beat them.
Syracuse’s momentum slowed, instead of putting teams away with relative ease things started to tighten up for the Cuse. They play host to Pittsburgh and escape a close game with them 59-54 due to some late game heroics by Tyler Ennis and a missed shot by Lamar Patterson.
Then…after a couple more wins, Duke visits the Carrier Dome and plays Syracuse in an overtime thriller and again the Orange escape with a win on a questionable call that could have gone either way. After another close game with Notre Dame, the Cuse travel to the Pete to play Pittsburgh in a rematch. Once again the Orange find a way to win after a 35 footer from none other than Tyler Ennis again. This game was followed by yet another close one in the Dome against North Carolina State, another game that could have gone either way, yet somehow the Cuse pull it out. But now it seems the Orange are missing something…something’s not quite right.
Enter Boston College….
With Syracuse having survived what seemed like game after game and close brushes with death, the Cuse figured to have an easy game with Boston College that would allow them to regroup,to get their feet back under them to check the air in their tires.
Then it happened,The wheels come off….
The Eagles with nothing to lose enter the Fortress of Orange and shocked the basketball world by taking down the yet unbeaten but bruised Orange. There had been rumblings for several games, hushed tones, and quite whispers even within the Syracuse faithful. Most thought the Orange were ripe for picking, but not to lowly Boston College, not to a team that was 7-19, 3-10 at the time. But it happened, the wheels just came off.
But wait, one other thing is starting to become evident.
There’s a hole in Syracuse’s Zone….
Yes, that’s right, a hole, right square in the middle of the vaulted Syracuse zone and it’s blaring like the trumpet section of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra on opening night.
Meanwhile, the rematch with Duke is looming….
Syracuse licking it’s wounds, enter Cameron Indoor Stadium hoping to put the loss to Boston College behind them. After the first game with Duke, an instant classic, the Orange knew this was going to be a dog fight, and just like the first game between these two giants it didn’t disappoint. The Cuse came in ready to fight, ready to reclaim it’s glory and prove that the loss to Boston College was nothing more than a fluke. The game, just like the first one was another classic, hard fought to the end, that is until it happened.
Jim Boeheim blew his motor….
With the game on the line CJ Fair and a chance to tie the game drove to the baseline. Oddly enough, just as in the first game between these two, Rodney Hood came into the picture. Hood stood between Fair and the basket. There’s contact…. a called charge by Official Tony Greene and Jim Boeheim goes ballistic and then ejected. You know the rest of the story. After the dust settled Duke wins the game.
As if Syracuse hadn’t been through enough, here comes Maryland and yet one more in a line of close games. The Cuse win 57-55 but it was another game that could have gone either way. How much more can Syracuse take? Well, they’re about to find out.
With Syracuse reeling from losses, near losses, injuries and the Mt Vesuvius eruption by their Coach, they must now face Virginia. While everyone was abuzz about the Syracuse and Duke rematch the Wahoo’s had quietly taken a firm hold on first place in the ACC, and with a win over Syracuse, Virginia would claim the regular season title.
In a game most thought would be another barn burner it simply didn’t pan out that way, in the end it came down to an old-fashioned butt whooping. Virginia not only won going away but in doing so threw the Orange into a deeper, darker, pit of a hole. Virginia won 75-56.
Looking back over Syracuse’s schedule it becomes obvious that the backside was heavy. Syracuse’s non-conference schedule was against teams that are headed to the NIT or worse. When they got into the meat of the schedule they faltered like a fish out of water, losing 3 of their last 4 games.
So what’s next for Syracuse….
Even with the late season struggles of the Orange there is absolutely no doubt they have an extremely good team, a team capable of regrouping and winning the whole thing. If they can get healthy, change tires, and fine tune their engine they have a solid shot at a 2nd National Championship.
If not, it’s exit stage left.