There have been four very distinct reactions to last night's Sweet Sixteen loss to Butler and they've revealed a lot about what different SU fans expected from this team and this post-season.
#1 "This season is a f***king disaster and shame on everyone for being such a giant collection of losers. Have fun in Loserville, losers. Population: Losers. And YOU!"
To be fair, a LOT of Syracuse fans were this guy, even for a brief moment, last night (maybe even me for a second). Cooler heads prevailed and most SU fans have stepped back from the ledge, walked back into their office and sat back down at their cubicle desk so that Agent Smith can collect them.
You need to as well, sir or madam. Remember that team full of fun-loving, great guys that you've been rooting for all season? Same dude today as they were last night as they were last week. They played a bad game and they lost. As we came to learn later in the season, it happens. And all due respect to the "experts" who said SU would roll over Butler, the Bulldogs are a very good team. No shame in that.
Yes, we can pick apart the reasons they lost and we can certainly analyze whether or not the season finished disappointing. But don't turn on these guys now. Not when they need your support most (I mean, did you watch that post-game interview? Is it dusty in here?).
You're better than that.
#2 "We were unranked in the preseason and we finished the year in the Sweet Sixteen. That's good enough for me!"
You're deluding yourself. Sorry. You can't take what we thought we knew about this SU team in October and apply it to what we know in March.
This team won the Big East regular season title (for what that's worth to folks these days).
This team spent the bulk of the season in the Top 10 and much of that inside the Top 5.
This was briefly the No. 1 team in the nation. And that wasn't in December...that was in March. Big difference.
This was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Based on all of that, you can't now go back to the expectations you had before the season started and claim that those expectations never changed. I do not believe you, kind sir or madam. You expected this team to go to the Final Four. And if you didn't, you expected them to at least go to the Elite 8. You did not expect them to go to the Sweet Sixteen and lose. No way. So you can't retroactively say you did.
Last year's team ended up exactly where it should have. Losing in the Sweet Sixteen. This year's squad was better. And you know it. Way better. They deserved to go farther.
That makes this disappointing. And it's okay for you to admit that. Years from now we'll look back on this era and say "Nice, SU went to back-to-back Sweet Sixteens, nice run." But you and I know that doesn't begin to tell the story of the 2009-2010 SU Orange. Not even close.
#3 - "Why didn't...what about...but...WHY???...what if...if only....but....but....but...damn."
My God, you'll go insane trying to go after this game in hindsight. So many what-ifs. An infinite amount. So many questions we'll probably never know the answer to. Why was Rick like that? Why did they come out so flat? And timid? And afraid to make mistakes (which in turn created mistakes)?
Honestly, I know it's hard, but...walk away. Go outside. Jog. Surf. Do yoga. Whatever you need to do to empty your brain for a few hours, I promise you...it will be worth it. It won't change the end result and you'll still wonder about all those what-ifs...just not as much.
#4 - "Wow, that sucked. But thanks for a great season Andy, Wes, Scoop, Kris, AO, Brandon, Rick, DaShonte...and even you Mookie. It was fun. I'm bummed it's over, but...it was fun."
This fan didn't emerge for the most part until the wee hours of the morning and that makes sense. Once the anger and frustration began to fade, clarity set in. You were reminded just how amazingly hard it is to make it to the Final Four and in a strange way it made you appreciate 2003 that much more. You remember when these guys began the year losing to LeMoyne...my God...and here they were, a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament and legit favorite to win the whole thing. Didn't happen and that sucks, but imagine how much that sucks for the players. About a million times more than it does for you. And so, as we rarely do in sports these days, you salute the Orange for their efforts. Especially those who won't suit up for us again. Tough, tough way to go out but once the pain subsides you know they'll have one of best seasons in Syracuse basketball to look back on.