2012-13 has looked a lot like 1996-97, or 2001-02, or 2007-08...in other words, frustrating as all hell for followers. Close losses, blowout losses, losses-losses, this year was mostly maddening for Syracuse Orange fans. But now that the regular season is over, let us cleanse ourselves of any and all negativity. And how else to do that other than bitching about things that ticked us off this year?
So, in no particular order, here we go: "I've got a lot of problems with you people!"
- Jim Boeheim's Love For Golf - It's never been a secret that James Arthur Boeheim loves him some golf. In fact, Boeheim was once the golf coach at Syracuse before he was the hoops leader. So his itching to hit the links in mid-March shouldn't be too big a surprise. But timing is everything, and Boeheim's deciding to announce his excitement for the coming golf season directly after a blowout loss at rival Georgetown couldn't have come at a worse time. For two reasons really; 1) it sounds like Boeheim has given up on this team. Which to you or I seems perfectly logical right about now, but what about to the players inside the locker room? They're busting their ass, and, regardless of what you think, they've got more invested into this season than you could imagine. I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty upset if I heard my coach, before the last game of the season, practically admit he just wanted things to be over. Which leads to thought 2)...
- Rumors - Ignoring Boeheim's obvious displeasure with this season, and possibly this team, his excitement to play golf has also furthered stupid speculation that the Hall of Fame coach is ready to call it quits after this season. Sean's already hit the nail on the head a couple of times on this subject, so I'll make this quick: Boeheim isn't retiring. Got it? Good.
- Everyone's Love Of Rumors - Listen, I'll admit to it, I love rumors. Gossip is always fun, and it's not just for high school girls. But I just can't get behind this "growing speculation" among "pundits" and even some fans that Boeheim is close to leaving. The analysts that even mention it are giving credence to a dopey kid who made a mistake. The fans that think it could be true, or almost want it to be true, are asking for trouble. Last season Syracuse was No. 1 in the country for weeks, earned a one seed, and made it to the Elite Eight. This season, for as frustrating as it is, will end up with one or two wins in the NCAA tourney and a decent enough seed. The game isn't passing Boeheim by, in fact, he's doing a better job coaching a team that lost multiple NBA draft picks than John Calipari is at Kentucky (I know Cal lost "better" players, but you get the point). Gossip can be fun, but why would any self-respecting Orange fan want this one to be true? Losing Boeheim, even if it keeps Mike Hopkins, is the worst-case scenario.
- Hype - Oh hype, as contagious as rumors and, sometimes, as destructful. Hype increased around SU after its win against San Diego State -- continuing to build after the Orange pounded cupcake after cupcake and every other top tier team lost, repeatedly. Hype raised expectations of fans who thought Syracuse wouldn't miss a beat after losing Dion Waiters, Fab Melo, Kris Joseph, and Scoop Jardine. Plus, hype sucked Michael Carter-Williams into a world he probably wasn't ready for. MCW had some preseason buzz, but early season success put him into another stratosphere that he and fans didn't expect. So when growing pains occurred, fans seemed to turn on team and sophomore quick, mainly because they seemed blindsided by the losing and by the stock-rising of Carter-Williams. But if you take everything into account, SU and MCW ended up with decent seasons.
- Missing Open Shots - It's certainly not just Trevor Cooney, but my God, he must have the highest percentage of missing wide open shots in the history of basketball. Cooney, Triche, Carter-Williams, and even James Southerland have all gotten in on the, "Oh, that shot is definitely going in! What? How can they not make a freakin' shot?" act. Granted this team misses open shots and contested shots, bunny shots and long-distance shots, so over time everyone should be numb to the clanks, but it doesn't make it any less confounding.
- Fairy Tales - Local kid takes over as leader of a legendary basketball program, and after years of playing well enough, finally comes into his own as a senior, leading team to glory. That's the way Brandon Triche wanted this season to go, but, alas, fairy tales suck because they're tales...not reality. Triche is struggling and finishing his career like no one had hoped. He's lost confidence, his touch, and now could go out on quite a sour note. Where's his Knight-In-Shining-Armor moment? Bah...fairy tale shmary flale.
- Rivalry - We all love to hate someone or something. It's in the human DNA. And for Orange fans, hatred meant one thing: Georgetown and Connecticut. Like breathing; necessary for life. But as we all wax poetic about the final few moments of the Big East as we knew it, let us all forget how this farewell campaign went for Syracuse - losing in Hartford to the Huskies and being humbled twice by the Hoyas - on national television both times. You know, suddenly starting a fresh in the ACC doesn't sound so bad. Maybe Mike Krzyzewski will sucker punch Boeheim at mid-court next season? That would cause people to forget about John Thompson, Jr...eventually.
- Developing Big Men - I've know called in the FBI to help find Dajuan Coleman's and Rakeem Christmas' games. They're missing and their families are begging, if you've seen their game somewhere, please tell the police. We know bigs take longer to get acclimated, but this is a little much. Especially with Christmas being in Year 2 of the Process.
- Standing And Clapping - Tradition at Syracuse. Fans stand and clap in unison until the first basket of each half. And while we all start getting fidgety after a few minutes of doing it, complaining how long it takes the Orange to score a freakin' basket, it's Syracuse's way and we can't stop it. But now it seems like more and more schools have fans standing and clapping, too. While I know Syracuse didn't invent this phenomenon, I didn't think Connecticut would take it and run. This is Syracuse's annoying thing for fans to do and complain about the entire time, and that's not open for debate, either.
There you have it, some quality time to get things off the chest, to clear the air. I'm sure I've missed a lot of points -- as there seems to be a lot of issues. But, you know what the funny part about this season is? Although SU is clearly fatally flawed as a team in a number of areas, it could still scrap together some decent games and get to the Sweet 16 or even further. Hell, look at the road to the the Big East tourney semifinal, that's not a murder's row.
There's still a chance at some form of success out there -- certainly not a national championship, but an opportunity to close out on a higher note than it's at now. Of course, that's now how things will go, and that's why this season will likely be remembered among the most frustrating of the frustrating to watch.