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Syracuse Basketball: Step back from that ledge, my friend

Yes, the last two games have been bad, but they’ve also taken place in November.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the Syracuse Orange basketball team was 4-0 while sitting pretty in the poll rankings and bracketology. Of course they also hadn’t played anyone of real note either. A week later, the Orange have failed both of their first two tests of the season, getting shut down by South Carolina in Brooklyn and then watching Wisconsin carve up the zone with ease in Madison.

Just like that, Syracuse is 4-2, likely to be unranked or close to it next week, and leaves fans with all sorts of questions it was hoping not to have to ask this season. What about all the great leadership in our grad transfers? What about all the depth we have on the roster? What about all that scoring we’re supposed to have?

And all of those questions are valid. But so is this statement:

We’re not even in December yet, Syracuse fans.

NCAA Basketball: Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational-South Carolina vs Syracuse Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Remember last year? A Syracuse basketball team with far less bonafides than this one lost three out of four games in early December. One to Wisconsin (whoa). One to a mediocre Georgetown team (grrr). One to a godawful St. John’s squad (still not sure how). That stretch sucked the life out of Orange fans...and that’s before the four-game losing streak that struck once we started ACC play. In December and January, you’d be hard-pressed to find any Syracuse fans who felt good about that squad and their chances to put it all together.

That team ended up going to the Final Four, so what the hell do any of us know?

The point being that, yes, SU looked pretty bad against South Carolina and REALLY bad against Wisconsin. But, again, it’s November. You lost to a great team on the road, which is something that usually happens to everyone. And the South Carolina loss stings too, but isn’t monumentally shocking.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

And again, it’s November. Better to learn that the pieces aren’t fitting and the new guys haven’t quite learned the system yet now than in February. Better to get humiliated now when no one will remember so that you’re motivated to get better for conference play. Good to get the experience of playing against top-quality hoops stars who know how to break a zone down in order to know how to build it back up.

I make no excuses for SU’s performance in the last two games. It’s troubling and disheartening. But, and it bears repeating, it’s also November. We’ve got plenty of time to work it out.