If you're reading this post, then undoubtedly, we already have something in common; the Syracuse Orange. I've been a fan of the 'Cuse since I was six-years-old, and I've been loyal through the ups and downs of the past 3+ decades. From Coleman and Douglas to Melo and G-Mac, we've seen our team reach the highest of highs (2003 National Championship) and the lowest of lows (2005 first round loss to Vermont...VERMONT!!!) However, we Orange fans have no control over the colors we bleed when pricked. Sometimes in the midst of a loss, I even find myself wondering, "Was there something else I could have done?"
Now, we find ourselves on the brink of something we dare not speak of; you know...it starts with the number 68, and ends with a ladder, a pair of scissors and a small piece of twine to remember the moment. For a real Orange fan, it's that thing we begin to consider at the first tip-off of the first exhibition game each year. Could it be? Is it possible? Will this be the year?
For those of you who feel I'm right inside your head, I offer the following piece of advice:
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, mmkay? There is no greater enigma in sports than that of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. We've all been witness to it year in and year out. All the planning and preparation in the world is no match for the madness we experience every March. Why else would some websites be willing to award millions of dollars for the perfect bracket? It has been said the odds of picking the perfect bracket are 1 in over 35 billion. However, we Orange aren't concerned with the perfect bracket...we are only concerned with the team in the middle of the page at the very end. I must admit, I too am guilty of allowing myself to envision the Orange in the big game this season. With our depth and ability to play lockdown defense, it's hard to consider the 'Cuse losing even one game, much less THE game, but let's try to put things into perspective.
Jim Boeheim has been coaching the Syracuse Orange for 36 years. Before the 2011-2012 basketball season is over, Boeheim will be the third winningest coach in NCAA history, passing the great Dean Smith. In addition to the staggering number of wins, our beloved coach has maintained a win percentage of over 74%. However, with 870+ wins spanning the majority of the last 40 years, only one of them was a National Championship. If that doesn't speak to how difficult it is to win the big dance, then I don't know what will.
As fans, we should remain humble and cautiously confident. As we enter the more difficult portion of our season, we will surely be faced with adversity (as if we haven't been already...ahem, Bernie Fine). Don't waver at the first sign of weakness, and do not be swayed by loss. Wear your colors proudly, fellow Orange fans. Let's cheer the loudest and defend our team with more heart than anyone in the country, for they need us, just as much as we need them.
Thanks to those who took the time to read this, and as Rick Jackson used to say: "On to the next one."