There's probably a highlight reel up on YouTube right now of Clemson dunks and big shots and I wouldn't blame them. I also wouldn't have blamed the Orange for rolling over...they were getting beat down, the crowd was frenzied and they had no momentum. That's what made the final six minutes of the game all the more impressive to me. This wasn't a team that didn't care or had given up because they were playing a tournament of consolation games. Teams like that don't outscored their opponent 22-7 at the end of the game to pull within one. Alas...too little too late. And what had only minutes earlier been an obviously losing effort was now a stinging defeat, one we could have won if we just had a couple more seconds or hit a couple more shots. Story of the season, perhaps?
Eric Devendorf scored 23 points while Demetris Nichols scored 20 points in his final game. But what I'll remember most about this one was Paul Harris. His stats only read 5 points, 8 rebounds but I felt like we saw a turning point for Harris tonight. He stepped up emotionally when the Orange needed a boost, he did the little things and put forth the effort of someone who desperately wants to win. Despite the end of the season, it was a promising vision for next year where Harris will be called upon as a leader to help guide highly-touted freshmen, something he knows about.
In the moral victories department, let the record show that Clemson drew about 3,500 to its previous NIT game and sold out the complex (during spring break no less) for Syracuse. And upon beating the Orange, the fans stormed the court. Say what you will of the merits of those actions but it says a lot of how Syracuse basketball is viewed in places like this.