On Salt Lake, Arinze & Expectations

The Syracuse basketball team arrived in Salt Lake yesterday.  Tired but determined as ever.

The big question that we all kinda know the answer to but are still asking, is...how's Arinze Onuaku?

He was not on the floor for practice. He was in street clothes or sweats at the games. Nobody would say what he’s doing. And if he does play, what kind of shape will he be in?"

Just my two cents but he' not playing Thursday, he's not playing Saturday (God willing) and if SU were to make it to next weekend, he's not playing then either.  It's best to assume SU is going to go it without AO.  The opponents will get tougher but they've proven they can play without him.  They might not be a better team with AO not there but there's a slightly different team. And that's not a terrible thing.

Update:  AO is most certainly out for Thursday.

On Brent Axe's show today, he asked me if I would be happy with "just" a Final Four.  The truth is...no.  Not at this point.  Knowing how good this team is and what the road ahead looks like, I want a title.  If SU were to make it to the Final Four and not win it all, I might appreciate it more as time went on.  Historically it would be a great thing.  But right here and right now, it's not good enough.  And the players feel the exact same way.

"We got complacent last year, and we were a little too excited to get there," shooting guard Andy Rautins said. "But this team has a whole different mindset this year, and we’re not satisfied yet."

As a No. 1 seed, the Orange doesn’t want to end up like Kansas — a highlight on ESPN for its failures. The team is hungry to keep going. No need for celebration. It hasn’t accomplished anything yet, outside of a Big East regular-season championship.

Butler coach Brad Stevens, whom you may have heard wasn't alive when Jim Boeheim started coaching (and you will hear more than a couple times on Thursday), has his Bulldogs ready.  He's more than capable, having one of the best starts to a college coaching career ever.  Just like someone else we know...

Stevens’ career arc is very similar to that of Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim. Boeheim was 31 years old when he became the head coach at his alma mater after coach Roy Danforth left for Tulane.

Boeheim’s first team went 26-4 in the 1976-77 season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. In his first three years, Boeheim led Syracuse to 74 wins and 14 losses plus three trips to the NCAA Tournament.

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