A two game losing streak, especially one that spans an entire week of the college basketball season, does not a season ruin.
For Syracuse fans, watching their team lose at Villanova and Pitt in back-to-back weekends shouldn't be all too disconcerting. In fact, there are a lot of teams that would love to freak out over losing a couple in a row. I mean, a two game losing streak at DePaul is usually just the beginning.
But at Syracuse, a team ranked in the top ten, a team with national title aspirations, back-to-back losses resonate. In fact, the two defeats to Villanova and Pittsburgh respectively do more than just resonate, they accentuate. Accentuate the loss of James Southerland, who no doubt would have been a huge help in either loss. Accentuate missing DaJuan Coleman, who would have provided, at the very least, another body for coach Jim Boeheim.
These losses can, in some ways, be blamed on the off-court trouble. If Southerland is there to hit some shots, Syracuse probably beats Nova. If Coleman is available in either game, Syracuse may not have worn down. The Orange may or may not have won those games at full strength, but it's a good bet both contests would have played out differently.
And now, with the off-court drama still circling, Syracuse looks to avoid a three game losing streak with Notre Dame in town. Things look bleak-ish. Not that Syracuse can't beat the Irish, but it won't be easy, especially with this duct-taped line up. So I thought it would be a good time to remember just how good SU has been lately.
Syracuse's three losses this season match the entire total from last season! The Orange have gone 28-3 in its last 31 Big East conference games. Until the loss at Villanova, Boeheim's boys had won 7 straight road league games -- including a win at No. 1 Louisville. SU actually won in Louisville twice during the road league win-streak.
Off the court the only thing that has been consistent is inconsistency, or at least that's the way it can seem. But on the court? At least over the past few seasons. It's been the exact opposite. Further proven by the release of this week's rankings -- Syracuse is No. 9 in both polls. That continues a trend of the Orange being ranked in the top ten that dates back through all of last season (SU finished ranked No. 11 by both outlets in 2011).
And as the Orange attempt to reverse the losing trend against Notre Dame it's important to note one more major factor in consistency -- winning at the Dome. The Orange have won 35 straight under the big top. The longest streak in the country and the longest in program history (DOME STREAK, NOT INCLUDING MANLEY. WE KNOW ABOUT THAT STREAK...sorry, back to the column). Syracuse hasn't lost at its current home since being beaten by NAME REDACTED in February of 2011.
Now I don't think fans are forgetting any of this information. Most of the Orange faithful, at least the ones on this site, seem to be level-headed about their favorite team. They know, or should know, that this run of the last few years has been awfully special. From win streaks to rankings, Syracuse basketball has proven itself elite over and over again.
But I do think, as we watch the Syracuse Seven try to scrap out wins until Southerland and Coleman can come back, it is important to keep things in perspective. If this season tailspins, there shouldn't be too much complaining because the last few seasons have been too good to you, too good to Syracuse basketball. If this is as bad as it gets, a few losses in the middle of a tough stretch while missing key players, then basketball life is pretty good.
Of course, I should point out, the team that ended Syracuse's 20-game win streak to start last season, the team that stopped the Orange's 12 game consecutive Big East win streak, the team that took away SU's No. 1 ranking -- the last time it held said spot -- is also the one trying to stop the home win streak and push SU out of the top ten for the first time in years.
Maybe now isn't a good time to stop being itself -- at least until after Notre Dame leaves town.