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I Don't Siena Reason To Miss Tonight's Game

I believe it was the immortal words of Fergie, when she said "Letttttttttttt's get it started. In heeeeeeeeeeere." From that point on the base kept coming, coming. And coming, coming. And coming, coming. And coming, coming...

The Siena Saints come to town tonight as the Orange open the 2007-2008 basketball season. The Saints must have seen what we do to religious-types so I expect them to be prepared. Then again, Syracuse has seen what Gardener-Webb, Mercer, Findlay and Utah Valley State and has to be wondering what the hell is going on in the world of college basketball.

Last year Syracuse was punished for not playing a touch-enough OOC schedule. Question this year is, is that even possible? At this point, Siena beating Syracuse wouldn't even be shocking compared to the other losses in recent weeks around the country, despite the fact that Siena lost to James Madison on Friday.

Of course, even if you disregard all the crazy upsets going on, Syracuse would be wary anyway.
Drexel, Wichita State and Bucknell are just three names that come to mind. Teams that were supposed to be early-season cupcakes that ended up beating the Orange and throwing the team into a funk. Besides, Siena is no slouch to begin with, some even predicting them to finish 1st in the MAAC after finishing 20-12 last year.

Siena is in much the same situation the Orange are in. A team full of youngsters that wants to run and looks to be high-scoring. Honestly, I don't know what to expect from our guys and it's kinda exciting. Usually you have fairly sure expectations of who is going to do what and what role they will play. I would not be surprised by just about any outcome this evening (short of a Siena blowout).

What this game signifies most of all that even if Jim Boeheim and SU wanted to continue scheduling soft to start the season, they would be hard-pressed to do so. The NIT regional that includes Siena, Saint Joseph's and Fairleigh Dickenson is not the cakewalk it may sound like.

"Sometimes when you play in these tournaments, you might get an easy game, but not this year," Jim Boeheim said. "These teams are all good teams. They're very well-coached teams. They're all teams that have a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year. I think everybody knows how good college basketball is today. Every game's a battle. You have to go out and play well. I think our players are aware of that now."

For Syracuse fans, if you didn't already get the sense that every game is important after last season's NCAA snub, you really feel it now. And fans of the majors should relish the intrusion that these mini-majors are making early in the season. No longer can we look at the schedule and make assumptions. Finally, college basketball is getting what college football has always had. The notion that "every game counts."

Oh and in case you're wondering, Syracuse is 27-4 in season-openers in Jim Boeheim's coaching tenure.