Everyone hates band aids.
Sure they're useful and serve a valuable medical purpose in stopping a cut from bleeding and preventing infection. But that's not why people hate them. People hate band aids because it hurts like a b***h when you have to finally take it off. Like it or not, you can't leave that band aid on forever because eventually there will come a time when you have to rip that s**t off and let it get some air to properly heal.
Which (finally) brings me to my point. We need to rip off this band aid. We need to re-open an old and painful wound. We need to talk about Michigan.
The Syracuse Orange men's basketball team last made the Final Four in 2013. That was three years ago, but, for most Syracuse basketball fans, due to the amount of pain and lasting memory those last few seconds against Michigan in the Final Four caused, that game might as well have been played three days ago.
You know exactly what I'm referring to. That drive. That shot. That stupid stupid shot.
With just 15.7 seconds remaining, Syracuse trailed Michigan by three points. Syracuse's starting backcourt of Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche had fouled out. Thus, instead of the future NBA Rookie of the Year Carter-Williams or senior and veteran leader Triche, it was a little-used 6' 4" backup shooting guard bringing up the ball with the game, and the chance to play in the NCAA Championship, on the line.
His name? Trevor Cooney.
Instead of looking for a potential game-tying three-point shot, Cooney elected to drive to the hoop and throw up an off-balanced and ill-advised shot near the basket. It bounced off the rim.
In his post-game press conference following the 61-56 loss, head coach Jim Boeheim explained that the play he drew up was to get Syracuse three-point specialist James Southerland the ball for a chance to tie it, but due to a defensive adjustment by Michigan, Cooney was unable to do so.
"We were trying to get James,'' Boeheim said. "They switched on it. Trevor had no choice. That was it. He had no choice. He did the best he could in that situation.''
While Boeheim refused to put the blame on Cooney, who only played five minutes against Michigan that night, Syracuse fans weren't as kind. Now, is it fair to be remembered for a single shot? Probably not. But do sports fans really care or take into consideration "what is fair?" Probably not.
Cooney certainly couldn't have known it at the time, but those last 15.7 seconds would initiate one of the most highly-contested debates over a Syracuse player's legacy in Orange history–a debate that even to this day has yet to be formally settled.
Cooney most likely hopes he'll be remembered as the latter. Lucky for him, he has a chance to take a major step in doing so Saturday evening when Syracuse plays North Carolina with the winner advancing to the NCAA Championship. When he steps onto the court, Cooney will become the only Syracuse player to ever appear in two Final Fours (Dajuan Coleman was on the team in 2013, but didn't play against Michigan).
While Cooney is still being criticized for his play in his first Final Four appearance three years ago, he now has a chance to redeem himself in his second.
The question remains: Will he?