The movie script that was the Syracuse Orange's 2011-2012 season would have had the team make it to the Final Four. They would have been pushed directly into the national spotlight, with Boeheim dead-center. They would have at once been the poster-children and worst nightmare of the NCAA's crown jewel and it would have been glorious.
Alas, that's why you can't script life. Otherwise the Orange wouldn't have lost to the Ohio St. Buckeyes 77-70 in the East Region Elite Eight. Instead, it's OSU's script that continues to be written.
Separating the game from the season, it was one that felt weird all day long. America was literally against the Orange from the start and, it seemed, so were their jumpshots.
Jim Boeheim said that this team would go as far as the seniors would take them and he was right. Unfortunately, Kris Joseph spent most of the night shooting poorly or losing passes. It wasn't his night. But it wasn't just him, there was a massive amount of missed lay-ups, missed jumpers and missed opportunities.
Yes, the refs were abysmal. But to be fair, they were abysmal to both teams. It was as if they were under the impression that if they called enough fouls they'd be guaranteed a spot on the Final Four, too. But...Syracuse didn't lose the game because of the refs. (That said...28 fouls! We had 30 fouls in the Six Overtime game!).
Look to the first half when Jared Sullinger spent 13 minutes on the bench with two fouls. The Orange went into the locker room tied with the Buckeyes but should have been up 7-8. It was just that kind of night.
Kudos to Brandon Triche, who played his heart out and showed great promise for when he takes over as the team leader next year. Triche finished with 15 points, the team-high.
Scoop Jardine finished with 14, Kris Joseph had 10 and Dion Waiters had 9 in what is almost surely his final game in a Syracuse uniform.
Baye Moussa Keita did everything he possibly could trying to handle Jared Sullinger by himself without Fab Melo and a four-foul Rakeem Christmas. Not much more you could ask of Ol'Stone Hands. He did us proud.
Now, as for the season, it's been a ride to say the least. The best and worst season in Syracuse basketball history all wrapped into one. The further we get away from this game, the more we'll appreciate it as a totality. Six weeks as the No. 1 team in the nation. Big East regular season champions. No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament. And first Elite Eight since 2003. And all in the face of impossible distractions, reports and otherwise incomprehensible allegations.
This was a special team, no doubt about it. As Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine openly cry at the post-game press conference, it's just another assurance that these guys put everything they had into the season and everything they had into those orange and white uniforms. We are a lesser fanbase without them on our team.
I'm not gonna talk about next season. I'm not even gonna talk about next week. All I know is today the mojo ran out. The shots didn't fall and we were one person short on the "step up and make the shot" list. Two games short of our goal but closer than we've been since we reached it last.
Good game, you guys. Good season, too. Great team.