Among the dozen or so posts and hundreds, if not thousands, of comments regarding Syracuse's ascension to the Final Four, an interesting thought has come up. The Orange have made the Final Four. But how, exactly, should we fans feel about it?
On the one hand, there's a comment I made about cutting down the nets after the regional final. I understand it's a big moment for the guys. And I'm all for celebrating a great accomplishment. But why are they cutting down the nets in that situation? Just because they give you a trophy doesn't mean you've really won anything. Why not treat it like hockey, where the superstitious bastards won't touch the conference championship trophy? Or even baseball where they douse each other with cheap beer in the divisional round, saving the good stuff for the locker room celebration that <em>really</em> matters. The Final Four is great. A tremendous accomplishment. But it's not the ultimate goal. The pomp and ceremony of breaking out the ladder and cutting down the nets should be saved after the final buzzer sounds.
On the other hand, there's the "gravy" meme that has sprouted up here at TNIAAM over the last ten days or so. The idea that, at some point any further success is just a bonus. Most of college basketball places that threshold at reaching the Final Four. Think about it. When people talk about how good a team is, it's almost always stated in terms of the Final Four. It's, "Can team X make a Final Four run?", never, "Can team X win the title?" It's almost as if reaching the Final Four is just as good as winning it all. And it's not just underdogs and overachievers who hold this view. It's everyone (except UCLA, if you believe Ben Howland). So, it follows that just about everyone sees a title as gravy and a Final Four berth is sufficient to hang your hat on.
Personally, I found it hilarious that the Orange got to cut down the nets in Georgetown's home gym. I'm sure we all did. But if I had to chose that or a symbolic gesture indicating the Orange's focus on a national championship, I'd pick the latter. I'd choose a polite declination and a simple explanation.
"We're not here for gravy."