Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Almost two months ago a motto about this year's Syracuse basketball team popped into my head. Now, fresh off a victory over arc-rival Georgetown and on the brink of possibly winning the Big East Tournament Championship, the motto rings true.
"Don't get your hopes up, but don't lose hope in this team."
Those were the words I spoke on Jan. 27 near the tail-end of an episode of Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Podcast.
That was less than 24 hours after then No. 3-ranked Syracuse lost at unranked Villanova; over a week after the Orange upset then No. 1-ranked Louisville on the road; and in the middle of the James Southerland debacle (and we were all pretty sure he wasn't coming back).
It was before a future loss to Pitt on the road; the impending three-game losing streak, which was sandwiched between a road loss to rival UConn and the embarrassing regular-season finale against Georgetown.
It was before Wednesday's head-nodding, "this is more like it," win over Seton Hall in the second round of the Big East Tournament; Thursday's gritty semifinal victory over Pitt; and Friday's heart-attack creating, historic edging of arc-rival Georgetown.
Like a textbook story arc, the season has been filled with plenty of really high highs and really low lows -- something that was foreshadowed during Syracuse basketball's media day in mid-October.
It started off with some feel-good moments that transitioned into a bunch of lowpoints, which even turned yours truly into a bit of a Debby Downer; something that's hard to do.
As the case in nearly every story, the only way this team could overcome its obstacles was to find some mental fortitude, which was tested and seemingly broken last Saturday in the nation's capital.
Yet, there was always hope that somehow, someway the Orange could find the mental strength it needed to live up to their potential.
(I mean, how couldn't they? Most of the players on this team were a part of the most mentally-tough team Syracuse has ever had.)
That hope still lived and showed itself Wednesday mainly because the month of March, which can do funny things to college basketball teams, had arrived.
Now, here we all are with a brand-new team, one that has rising from the ashes, hopefully, ready to close another Big East chapter on a positive note.
And, even if that doesn't happen, hope has helped restored the needed confidence for the next big thing -- the NCAA Tournament.
Six days ago, I admittedly nearly lost hope. Luckily, I didn't. I just couldn't with this team.