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Tell Me More About This...What Do You Call It...Defense?

You know, if not the for the defense and rebounding, this is a pretty solid Syracuse basketball team. Of course, "media-types" would tell you that those two things are fairly important and that the lack of them is to blame for SU's 89-91 loss to Rhode Island at home this weekend. To those "media-types," I say...shhhh...don't tell the Big East!

Okay, so clearly this team has a long way to go and any excitement or anticipation you got over the Virginia win was premature. In fact, you might even start thinking that this season is going to be a waste. I would have to disagree.

This season and this team has the misfortune of coming after last year's NCAA tourney screwjob and as such, we fully expect this team to not only make the tournament, but also "make up" for last season. Unfortunately, this isn't the team for that task nor should they be held accountable for it. This team needs to account for its own deficiencies, namely experience and defensive ability.

I will say, even though they lost in a tough fashion, damn that was a fun game. And this is a fun team. Fun doesn't always equal wins unfortunately, and I think we're going to see that more this season. I'm not about to say we should throw this year out and call it one big training session, but I think you have to take a step back about these guys. If they really do
make the NIT instead of the NCAA tournament, that has nothing to do with last season. If they fail to succeed as much as we'd hoped, perhaps you can take what went wrong and what the team learned and think about how much better they're going to be for it.

True, this is the wrong time for Syracuse basketball to be stuck in a transitional period (especially for DOCTOR Daryl Gross) but it is what it is. As for the season and where the Orange are at, I'll leave to
the Axeman to but it all in perspective:

With three big out-of-conference losses (Ohio St, UMass, Rhode Island) and a grueling Big East Schedule just a few weeks away, Syracuse cannot afford to lose any of the four remaining out-of-conference games or else they put major pressure on themselves in conference play. Not a good place for a young, can't play defense, can't rebound, "still learning" team to be if they want to make the big dance.

Interesting sidenote by Axe that Eric Devendorf, the assumed leader of the team, is always MIA when it comes to talking to the media. Of course its his prerogative and I can't say I blame him, but I think the players could use a voice right now and I hope that, even if its behind closed doors, someone in a position to be a leader is doing so.

What's it going to take to improve things? I think before anything else, it's going to be about fundamentals of defense. The team needs to go back to basics. Re-learn what they know. I suggest...a New Way....

By the way, the crowd on Saturday was bigger than the crowd at the Cincy football game. Awesome.

(AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)