No longer able to hide behind Kentucky, Ohio State and North Carolina in the top five, the Orange are officially on everyone's radar. As expected, many of them aren't that impressed with what they've seen. No matter, Syracuse is No. 1 and the target is affixed to their backs regardless of whether or not people think they've earned it.
As for what changes on the court...nothing. And the players are talking that talk.
"It doesn’t mean anything,’’ Jardine, Syracuse’s senior point guard, said Monday. "We can be beaten, just like any team. We know that. We have to continue to work hard.’’
Right now, we’ve got to get ready for a good N.C. State team and that’s our biggest focus,’’ Jardine said. "It’s not about us being No. 1 in the country.’’
"We’ve been successful for the first 10 games, but we have to stay focused,’’ Triche, SU’s junior guard, said. "We’re just getting started. We have to keep looking forward and not worry about being No. 1 right now and just try to get better.’’
We can debate the on-court merits of Scoop Jardine all day long but it looks like we're beginning to see the full value of the senior. He's emerged in the last week as the unquestioned vocal leader of the team and the one setting the tone on how the team prepares and responds to everything on and off the court.
The good news for Jardine and many of the other older players on the squad is that they remember what it was like to be No. 1 and how quickly it went away.
"It didn’t last long,’’ said Southerland, who was a freshman on the 2009-10 team. "A week later we played Louisville down there. It shows that it doesn’t mean much until the NCAA (tournament). Until then we have to keep doing what we’ve been doing.’’
No. 1 ranking or not, the Wolfpack will be extremely eager to end our latest reign in similar fashion. They already have revenge on their minds for last year's result. The team has been struggling down the stretch and they'll need to fix that if they want to run with the deep bench of the Orange for 40 minutes. Not that we weren't before, but I'm sure we'll see the best NC State and its fanbase has to offer on Saturday.