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Tequila Stuntmen & Variables...

A "Tequila Stuntman" is exactly like your standard shot of tequila, except you snort the salt up your nose and squeeze the lime juice into your eyes. It's stupid  and the pain seems to outweigh the glory and one wonders why anyone would willingly do it. It's also a nice metaphor for having an irrational love of Syracuse basketball. 

For me, the four game losing streak was the lime juice in the eyes. It sounds horrible and it's painful, but the pain never stung quite as much as I expected. All four losses were against teams that on any given day we have the "potential" to beat. All four losses were games that if a few things had gone differently we "could've" won (not on any given day, but) on that particular day. But none of the losses were games that we "should've" won on that particular day. Each loss hurt initially, but none of them stayed with me. And the same goes for the lime juice in the eye. It hurts, but it doesn't last.

But the loss to Georgetown, that was the salt in the nose... the pain lingers. Last night was a game we not only "could've" won, but we "should've" won. We gave it away. And we can point fingers at the refs or question Jimmy putting Rick back in, but unlike each loss in the four game losing streak, the opposing team didn't outplay us, we just beat ourselves. And obviously, losing to Georgetown, especially at home is kind of like snorting salt.

Now the question becomes, why did we beat ourselves? And the answer is a little disturbing. Simply put, we're not that good. Sure, I think we're a top 20, probably even a top 15 team. And yes, we have the "potential" to beat any team in the country, anywhere, on any given night. It's easy to look at some of the games Scoop, Triche, Joseph, etc. have played and say, "if we could put it all together, we might be the best team in the country..." but the simple fact remains, those great games, the ones where Scoop is an efficient scorer and excellent decision maker, where Joseph takes over a game when we need him to, when Triche is knocking down threes and getting into the lane... those games are the exception, not the rule. And it's easy to say, "if they've done it before, they can do it again," but if we're being realistic, we're probably not going to play too many perfect games, and we almost definitely won't be able to string together 5 or 6 of them during Big East play, let alone come March. We're not consistently great, because there are just too many variables that we have to overcome in order to be great:

1. Will we get quality minutes out of our centers? 2. If we don't get quality minutes out of our centers, will our forwards be able to defend the interior and get rebounds? 3. Can we hit open 3 pointers? 4. Can we make our free-throws? 5. Will Scoop make good decisions? 6. Will Triche disappear? 7. Will Joseph be able to carry this offense on his back when we need him to? 8. Will we our bench guys give us a spark when they come in? 8. Can we score with any consistency in half-court sets? 9. What happens if Rick gets in foul trouble? 10. If we're behind late in a game, will we keep our composure? 11. If we absolutely need a big shot, who wants to take it, who is going to take it, and who can actually knock it down?

The list could go on and on. We enter every game with so many question marks. And of course, we don't need them all answered in order to win, but at this point, this team hasn't shown that it's capable of answering a majority of them with any consistency. Compare that with last year's team. The only real variable going into each game was whether or not we'd hit free throws. We only lost games when guys were injured (Wes, AO) and/or when other teams played outstanding. You knew what each guy's role was and what they were capable of. We're 20+ games into this season, and the only guys who have clearly carved out their roles and shown that they can consistently produce in them are Rick and CJ. So while it's easy to pick and choose the best and brightest moments from various guys on the team and talk about their potential, the reality seems to be that we're not good enough, not consistent enough, not poised enough to make a long run in March. And wishing and hoping and thinking "what if" is sort of like doing a tequila stuntman... it's pointlessly painful.

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