When Syracuse vaulted up to No. 1, people were falling over themselves to talk about how unworthy the Orange were of the honor. Now that they've lost two in a row to end the season, it seems like those same people are falling over themselves to talk about how worthy the Orange are of the top honor. If I had known this is what it would take to turn everyone into a Syracuse apologist, I would have suggested we lose three in a row back in December.
Folks like Stewart Mandel, Gary Parrish and even former President Bill Clinton quickly jumped to Syracuse's aide following yesterday's loss. In a weird way, we got exactly what we wanted...a national voice defending Syracuse basketball to the masses. Be careful what you wish for.
So now, at the worst possible time, we're left with more questions than answers. Let's see if we can figure them out.
1. Will Syracuse lose it's one-seed?
No. No way. That's cute that Ohio State thinks they can vault past us, it really is. But here's the thing, Ohio State...you have 7 losses, you lost to North Carolina and West Virginia (two teams Syracuse beat) and the Big Ten blows ass. Enjoy your 2-seed. Maybe we'll see you in a few weeks.
2. If Arinze can't go or can't play for a long stretches of time, does that mean DaShonte Riley is going to see some action?
I think it does. When Arinze and Rick got into serious foul trouble against Georgetown during the season, DaShonte came in to fill some space. It was the most action he saw since January and the only time in the last two months he entered the game that wasn't garbage time. I don't see him playing 10-15 minutes a game though. I don't think Boeheim has that much faith in him. I see him filling spots and time when possible.
Otherwise, expect Boeheim to stay six-strong as long as he can and insert Mookie when he needs someone to take a breather.
Point is...we're really counting on AO being available to play. And we really need to make the first two round games blowouts (easier said than done) so we can keep him off the court as much as we can.
3. Should Syracuse have rested it's starters and not even bothered?
That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard and shame on anyone who suggested it. Like this guy. If we willfully walked into a Big East Tournament game against Georgetown, GEORGETOWN, and laid down in order to rest our starters, we would have deserved to be dropped to a 2-seed much more than actually playing the game like usual. That's cowardly. Shame on any Cuse fan who thinks that. Injuries happen. If you spend the whole time worrying about what might go wrong, you never test yourself to figure out how things can right. Not to mention the fact that you're the best team in the best conference in the nation...you need to act like it.
4. Has Georgetown now given everyone the true blueprint on how to crack the Syracuse zone?
Absolutely. Play Syracuse three times. That's how you do it. If anyone in the tournament can pull that off, they've got just as good a chance.
5. Can Rick Jackson handle this?
All of a sudden, I don't know. Brent Axe spells out a lot of the issues that seem to have come to a head in the Georgetown game, including turnovers, poor defense and a clear tension that has developed between Rick and Boeheim. If AO is out and Rick plays like he did today, we might as well have lost both of them.
6. AO or not, what do the Orange need to focus on heading into the tournament?
Defense. And not just better defense. I mean the BALL BALL BALL BALL BALL defense that we've seen dominate this year. And turnovers. Sweet jesus, we try so friggin' hard sometimes. Rautins forces more bad passes than anyone since, well, Devendorf. If both of those issues can be sorted out, or at least dealt with, there's still enough talent on the floor to go toe-to-toe with anyone.