I know, last night's loss by the Syracuse Orange to the Marquette Golden Eagles sent you into a shame spiral that you're just now recovering from. Get out of that dumpster, wipe that moldy lettuce out of your hair, pop a Tic-Tac and join us. I'd like to have a chat.
Guess what? This year's SU team isn't last year's team. Hell, they're not even the 2010-2011 team at this moment, though both lost in similar fashion to a baby-blue clad Marquette squad.
I'm not here to say everything is fine, because it's not. But the way some Syracuse fans are suddenly subtly pushing Jim Boeheim out the door and hoping that Michael Carter-Williams flops in the NBA... you need to stop that, you spoiled brat.
That's exactly what you are. You've had four years of elite basketball and all of a sudden you can't handle a tough stretch. Between the '05 - '06 season and the '08 - '09 one, Syracuse lost 47 games. FORTY-SEVEN. And that "downturn" included a BET title and Sweet Sixteen appearance.
Between '09 - '10 and this year, they've only lost 22 times. That includes two Big East regular-season titles, two No. 1 seeds, a Sweet Sixteen appearance and an Elite Eight appearance.
It's been a helluva run and we as Syracuse fans have the right to thump our chests over it. But you know what, those kinds of runs don't continue indefinitely. There are bumps in the road. Sometimes those bumps are massive and derail careers. Other times they last a couple games before the season is righted.
As far as I can tell, this Syracuse squad has some undeniable problems. I don't know if many of them can or will be fixed by the time the NCAA Tournament starts. Here's what I do know...Syracuse has won 20+ games for 947-consecutive season (give or take); Syracuse will be a high seed in the Big East Tournament; Syracuse will make the NCAA Tournament.
After that I can't tell you anything. But if that's our "fate," if that's the "punishment" we have to "endure," so friggin' be it. Ask Pitt fans about last season. Ask North Carolina about that 20-17 finish a few years back. Ask Providence about...everything.
If Syracuse is going to lay an egg, lay an egg now and realize just how much more you need to do to survive in March. Better that than to coast through an easy February and ride a wave of overconfidence into a short-lived NCAA Tourney. Or maybe they'll lose early anyway, and in that case, you can't say you didn't see it coming.
That said, if Syracuse were losing to Providence, Seton Hall and USF, I'd be questioning my faith in humanity. Instead, almost every loss (save for maybe Temple) is explainable. Perhaps the manner in which they lose the game is frustrating, but it's hard to look at any Big East loss and say, "that's insane." You're just used to seeing Syracuse win those games in the last couple seasons when, more often than not, this is what a Big East season looks like.
Boeheim has work to do. No one knows that better than he (try as he might to make it seem otherwise). He certainly doesn't need your keen insights and revisionist history to let him know that. He has a system and that system works when the players play smart basketball. And when they don't play smart basketball, it's back to Boeheim to turn those dumb basketball players into smart basketball players. Boeheim's got three more regular-season games and a Big East Tournament to do it. He's done more in less time with less talent.
If you want to jump ship on this season, go right ahead. You also relinquish your rights to take pride in the 1996 team, which, between 12/30 and 1/29, lost six of nine games. They probably should have fired Boeheim right then and there, too. But they didn't and he turned what was a "disappointing" Syracuse team into a Final Four squad.
I'm not making that promise about this team, though I would be remiss if I didn't remind you that this team is more talented than that one and has had a solid overall season whether you care to remember that or not.
So before we spend the off-season listening to the complaints about the 2-3 zone, whether or not Boeheim needs to hang it up, how MCW is "greedy" and will fail in the NBA, Brandon Triche is a disappointment and how "the Big East refs screwed us," let's see how the season actually plays out. If you're also a Syracuse football fan, surely you can use this past season as a template for patience and faith.
Or maybe you can't. You are, after all, a Syracuse fan. I know how that works.