With a night to think about last night's loss to Providence, maybe it's not the crisis-maker that it felt like at first. You can come out from your panic room now...although take a look around to make sure there aren't any corn-rowed Jared Leto's running around once you do.
At the end of the day it was a tough loss but a loss we probably should have been okay with given the circumstances. On the road with a hostile crowd and without the services of almost half of our starting line-up. Arinze gave it a shot but his knee just wasn't cooperating. It just compounded issues when the loss happened to come on the heels of two others as the Orange free-fall to bottom of the rankings.
Paul Harris said it was a "must-win" game but I disagree, and I'm concerned that Paul's letting his emotions get the better of him lately. I mean, if this was a must-win in late January, and you lost, what does that mean???
The Orange were tied with the Friars at the half but let the game get away from them in the 2nd. A late surge brought the Orange back within striking distance but it felt like too little too late and Jonny Flynn wasn't shy to admit what he thinks played into SU's demise:
"Nobody will probably come out and say it, but I think (fatigue) was definitely a factor at the end of the game."
The Axeman says you could sum the entire game up in the five-point swing that occured with 17:30 to go. The score was close up until that point but the Friars turned up the juice and it was a tide-turner for the rest of the game:
There were other issues that led to Syracuse's third straight loss and fourth loss in their last five games, like the suspect defense and a ridiculous amount of turnovers (21), but that five-point swing was the uppercut Providence needed in a fight where both boxers kept landing solid jabs on each other and made it seem for awhile that this one may go the distance.
Be sure to check out FriarBlog's breakdown of the game as well for some final statistical pieces. At the end of the day, Providence shot 66% in the 2nd half. Whattaya gonna do? (Why does it seem like everyone shoots the lights out against us?)
The Orange get some time off to sort themselves out and, more importantly, get healthy. Looking big picture, the Orange are NOT on the bubble. They are NOT going to drop out of the Top 25 (although they'll be in the 20's). They are NOT out of the picture for the top tier of the Big East, especially given the way everyone else is beating each other as well.
There are some very winnable games coming up as well as some not-so-winnable games. Four the next five are against ranked teams but three of those games are at home. And once they get out of the gauntlet, the Big East underbelly awaits (Cincy, St. John's & Rutgers). The Orange are 5-4 in the Big East at the halfway point. If they can repeat that, there's no way in hell you look at 10-8 in this conference as a bad team.
Maybe we're not the best but we're still a pretty good team and better we take some lumps now than in March. Jonny Flynn's on record saying "we're an Elite 8 team." Right this moment that's hard to swallow but big picture but it still holds. Let's see how the Orange respond against a beatable West Virginia team at home next week. We'll be healthier, hungrier and probably angrier. Maybe that's what we needed.