Syracuse Basketball Roundtable: We're Officially at DEFCON 1

Rich Barnes

TNIAAM's esteemed basketball panel deals with the most important things in the world of the Syracuse Orange this week.

Welcome back to the Syracuse basketball roundtable... Eff. Things are very bad right now. Not irreparably so, mind you. But still very, very bad. With that in mind, we're addressing but one question this week as we try and collectively walk ourselves back from the ledge as a fan base.

As is and will be the norm all season, we're chatting about Syracuse basketball, the ACC and anything else that might come up in the never-ending soap opera that is Jim Boeheim's Orange team. Join us below...

Describe how you're feeling about this Syracuse team right now...

Chris Daughtrey: I'm concerned, but not worried, if that makes sense. Look, I fully recognize that the Orange aren't playing their best ball right now. But, if you look at it, only Duke has beaten them when Syracuse has been at full strength. Every other game, either Keita or Grant has missed significant time. We all know that this team has very little margin for error. Even a guy like Baye, who doesn't put up huge numbers, if critical. So, call me a homer, but I still believe that, at full strength, Syracuse is still among the handful of best teams in the country. It's a matter of getting everyone back and up to speed.

Lisa Nelson: I’m not feeling as dejected as some of you, that’s for sure. I’m sad enough, but hearing fans and players sound so downtrodden makes it worse. Everyone needs a hug.

And then everyone needs to snap out of it. Look, Syracuse has some big problems right now, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel, or kick them when they’re down. Am I disappointed? Definitely, but I still support my team.

Now, "supporting" doesn’t mean ranting at sports analysts who don’t give Syracuse "any respect," and it doesn’t mean using injuries as an excuse for why shots aren’t falling -- the players aren’t. Most importantly, it doesn’t mean you’re watching this team, prepared to criticize when it doesn’t bounce back. It means you’re watching this team, ready to cheer when it does. Gear up.

Matt McClusky: What do you say about a season that has produced some of the most memorable regular season wins and, unbelievably, at the same time some of the most forgettable regular season losses? Honestly, it’s just as exhausting watching Syracuse play as it is talking about Syracuse’s play.

At this point, between injuries and an offense that is useless from anything farther than ten feet away from the rim, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Orange slide to a four seed and get bounced by a 13 in game one of the tourney. And while I still think, if Grant is healthy and Baye Keita is 100 percent, SU can make some noise, right now, I’m more inclined to wonder what the roster will look like in 2015. First World College Basketball problem, though, right? Hell, we’re all limping to the finish line and the team is still 26-4, things could be worse – but in the moment, it’s hard to think like that.

Jeremy Ryan: I'm not sure what the correct word is. Disappointment, perhaps? Not so much disappointed in the team's play, because in the grand scheme of things we have to remember that they're still just a bunch of college kids - not professionals. More that it's a shame such a promising and potentially historic season went off the rails so quickly. But I guess we saw it coming. Boeheim himself said they couldn't keep winning every close one, that they couldn't expect to dig themselves out of a hole game after game. He was right, of course. He may not be the most tactful guy on Earth, but he's usually right.

So what happens now? Many fans are pinning their hopes on the return of Jerami Grant, but last I checked he played pretty well in the Duke and BC losses. Getting him back will certainly help, but he isn’t the magic cure for their woes. Well, not unless he returns with a reliable 20 foot jumper in his back pocket.

We can take some solace in the fact that SU was in nearly an identical position last season, and things turned out pretty well. Do they have another turnaround in them this year? I think so. I’m not ready for basketball season to end.

Dan Lyons: I've felt better. I go into it more in the podcast this week, but a bad five game slump is one thing, but if you go back before the BC game, these same issues on both sides of the ball (no offense outside of Ennis and CJ, porous perimeter defense, decline in rebounding) go way past five games. That's more disconcerting than the four losses, as the issues seem more and more like who we are as a team, rather than just a blip in a 26-4 season. I hope I'm wrong, and I hope this team proves that this is a 2013 redux, and I very well may be, but I'm not confident in that.

Sean Keeley: I want to tell you that I feel like this is just the annual phase that Syracuse basketball teams go through like a rite of passage. I want to tell you that I trust the process, trust Boeheim and trust that this team will get it together in time to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. But, if I'm truly honest, I don't know if I feel that way. In fact, given the injuries, dearth of depth and sheer lack of offensive output, this doesn't feel like the usual "running on fumes" downturn. I'm worries this team has peaked. I hope I'm wrong. I'm rooting to be wrong. But I don't know if I am.

John Cassillo: Following Tuesday's loss, I told my best friends from SU that I just wanted this season to be over and that I couldn't take it anymore. That's not entirely true a day or two later, but nonetheless, this has been incredibly difficult to watch unfold. From 25-0, to 26-4 and dropping like a rock in terms of seeding, I don't see the same abilities in this year's team that last year's edition just seemed to intrinsically possess. We can't score. We can't play effective enough defense to mask our lack of scoring. And as a team, the Orange appear to be on auto-pilot. It's a terrible look for what was once a title contender. I want us to snap out of it. I just don't think we can at this point. ('Cuse, please prove me wrong a thousand times over)

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