USA TODAY Sports
Syracuse's season seems to be spiraling out of control with loss after loss, so let's remember; basketball can be fun.
You've seen this Youtube clip already, but I'm going to show it to you again, and you'll thank me for it:
I've probably watched that video 20 times by now, and every time I seem to see something new. While I feel for the kids on Mt. Vernon, I love every-single-thing about that clip! Everything.
That's the joy and agony basketball can give you, all rolled up into a minute YouTube clip. Mt. Vernon lost on one of the most inexplicable plays you'll ever see. In fact, even as both teams were celebrating, the officials had to huddle to just to figure out what the hell it was that just happened! New Rochelle players jumping up and down in jubilation; Mt. Vernon players jumping up and down in jubilation -- until the officials figured out that, yes indeed, a half-court shot at the buzzer after the other team threw the ball up in victory, did in fact count.
So what's this have to with Syracuse hoops? Well, nothing and everything really. Nothing because that game was a high school playoff game. Everything because in basketball you just never know what the hell is going to happen, but, just in case you need reminding, I'm using this space to tell you that if you wait long enough something will happen that makes it worth your while.
I'm not showing that video to cheer you up. And I'm not here to try and tell you that this Orange team can or will right itself and go on a long run come tourney time. You and I know that's not very likely. What with Syracuse's depth problems, shooting problems, and poor rebounding at crucial moments of close games. The last month has exposed all the flaws most of us knew were there already. Michael Carter-Williams is too erratic, Brandon Triche is as cold from the field as this winter has been in Northern New York. Plus, Rakeem Christmas' game is milk carton lost and Trevor Cooney is playing despite the fact he probably shouldn't be.
There are a ton of other issues, minor and major, that give us the reasons behind Syracuse's three game losing streak. The Orange went from defeating the No. 1 team in the country on its floor, playing without James Southerland, to losing two games in a row at the Dome -- ending a 38 game home win-streak by dropping consecutive games. Still, you've got to look around the college basketball landscape and realize a couple of things here:
1. Outside of Indiana, there really isn't a dominate team. Hell, even the Hoosiers have lost games to unranked opponents this season. Every team has flaws, which has lead us to Gonzaga being ranked number one. As Bud Poloquin pointed out (kind of), if that doesn't give Orange fans a glimmer of hope that this season isn't dead and that come next month, SU can still tango with the best of them, then nothing will.
(Not really knocking the
Bulldogs Zags, I'm just not a believer that its the best team out there.)
2. Syracuse isn't losing to Tomato Can U. Georgetown (despite a shaky overall resume) could snare a one seed before it's all said and done. Marquette's won 25 straight at its place. And Louisville still could be one of the four or five best teams in the country -- if it every figures itself out. Really, what's the worst loss for Syracuse? Temple? Even the Owls are still kind of a bubble team.
Basically, I think the message is simple: we all knew, despite the preseason ranking, that Syracuse was going to miss Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Dion Waiters, and Fab Melo -- something proving itself out. The Orange opened up with an impressive win on a boat against San Diego State and that probably changed things for everyone -- myself included. Of course, the Aztecs haven't lived up to the hype, either.
Actually, this season is a lot like the 2010-11 season; some growing pains; a multiple game losing streak; ending with a loss in the second round of the tourney. That team could have made some noise, but those damn Golden Eagles got in the way. This Orange team could do the same -- but DePaul Wednesday, maybe even beat Georgetown Saturday, gain some hype and momentum and then ultimately come up short in the first weekend of the tournament. Wouldn't shock anyone, right?
Still, there's a lot of time, at least three more games, until Syracuse sees its name on the CBS' big board come Selection Sunday. . A lot could happen between now and when the season does officially end. It could be Mt. Vernon depressing or it could be New Rochelle euphoric.
But you have to keep watching until that final buzzer...
...because you just never know what could happen.