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Syracuse Basketball: The sky doesn’t fall, it just shifts

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Last year wasn’t very good but don’t fall victim to short-term thinking when it comes to the state of the program.

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NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Syracuse vs Miami Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Back in the mid-90s, I wasn’t yet a Syracuse fan (the sordid reasons of which I will not go into detail about but you know where to find them). But I was well aware of SU’s status and head coach Jim Boeheim’s role in it. I distinctly remember that while the program was still well thought of, it was mired in a bit of a down cycle and there was some talk of Jim Boeheim’s time being up.

Then, Syracuse made a run to the 1996 Final Four and all of that was forgotten.

In the years that followed, Syracuse returned to good-not-great levels, some portions of the fanbase grumbled, the Final Four run was being redefined as a fluke, and perhaps we’d be better off with someone else in charge.

Then, Syracuse won the 2003 National Title and all was forgotten.

In the years that followed, Syracuse fell off. After a return to the Sweet Sixteen, they experience consecutive first-round exits in the NCAA Tournament. Then, even worse, they went to two consecutive NITs. Some portions of the fanbase grumbled, the National Title run was being redefined as a fluke, and perhaps we’d be better off with someone else in charge.

Then, the program picked back up. It reached No. 1 in the polls not once but twice. And then Syracuse made a run to the 2013 Final Four and all was forgiven.

The team suffered a disappointing ending the following season and was hit with NCAA sanctions the next. SU did not participate in the postseason for the first time in 20 years. The year after that the Orange struggled mightily and barely made it into the NCAA Tournament. Some portions of the fanbase grumbled, the Final Four run was being redefined as a fluke, and perhaps we’d be better off with someone else in charge.

Then, Syracuse made a run to the 2016 Final Four and all was forgiven.

Last season, the Orange struggled through their worst regular season in 20 years, missing the NCAA Tournament and exiting the NIT quickly. After that, longtime assistant and head-coach-in-waiting Mike Hopkins made the surprise jump to Washington and started taking recruiting targets with him. Just like that, Jim Boeheim and Syracuse once again seemed destined to stumble. Boeheim’s old. He can’t recruit like he used to (nevermind that SU has sent a player to the first round of the NBA draft for six-straight years). His assistants can’t recruit like Hop. SU is losing recruiting battles left and right.

Some portions of the fanbase are grumbling. The Final Four run is already being redefined as a fluke. And perhaps, just perhaps, we’d be better off with someone else in charge.

Fuck that, we’ll be fine. G’ORANGE!