That stings for a variety of reasons (depth, star power, potential rankings, general talent on the roster). But the largest of all may be the fact that we feel like it’s yet another thing to befall Syracuse in what feels like a length list of unfortunate happenings. I know that’s hard to believe for those outsiders that consider the Orange “lucky” and all with recent NCAA Tournament runs. However, the reality is this program has seen its fair share of bad luck in spite of successes over the last decade.
Without getting into too much detail on all of them:
- Arinze Onuaku’s absence in the 2010 NCAA Tournament
- Fab Melo’s absence in the 2012 NCAA Tournament
- The Bernie Fine sca -- nevermind...
- Self-imposed postseason ban
- NCAA sanctions and the resulting scholarship reductions
- Unexpected NBA departures of Tyler Ennis, Jerami Grant, Malachi Richardson
- Unexpected transfers by Taurean Thompson, B.J. Johnson, Chino Obokoh, Kaleb Joseph
- Mike Hopkins takes Washington job
- Geno Thorpe leaving the program
- Matthew Moyer (sort of expectedly) transferring
- Not to mention all the big-name recruits we’ve swung and missed on in recent years
The list could dig into even further minutiae if you really wanted it to (I didn’t even mention this year’s injuries). And in nearly every one of those instances, the sky has felt like it was about to fall on Syracuse basketball. And every one of those times, we took some lumps and came out the other side just as good — if not better than before.
Why would we think it’s going to be any different this time around?
Under Jim Boeheim, Syracuse basketball has been at a consistent level of success, and in recent years, results have gone beyond what we once expected. That’s with the aforementioned list of supposed tragedies large and small that can derail lesser programs. Instead of truly harming the program, all of this has just blended in with the compelling soap opera that is rooting for and covering this team daily.
To be honest, it’s amazing. And a testament to how much Boeheim has control over this program that the whole thing hasn’t collapsed in on itself yet.
Like it has in the past, though, Syracuse basketball keeps going following this latest bout of poor luck. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll hear about uncommitted recruits visiting SU and Orange assistants heading out on the recruiting trail. Boeheim will come in as the closer, and the roster will be filled out, just as it was previously. No, whoever joins the 2018 class is unlikely to possess the same talent level as Bazley. But since when has Jim not been able to coax more out of less talent?
In 2010, we had to replace Jonny Flynn, Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf, and ended up with a better team than that one. In 2011, we were replacing Onuaku and Wes Johnson, and yet the team still earned a 3-seed anyway. The 2013 team lost Kris Joseph, Fab Melo and Dion Waiters, yet made the Final Four. Michael Carter-Williams left after that season, yet SU started the following one 25-0. We lost our best player (Rakeem Christmas) after 2014-2015 and then a year later made the Final Four as a 10-seed.
This sport is all about constant churn, especially in the one-and-done era. Boeheim’s been able to withstand that dynamic better than most (Coach K aside, probably) and this latest unexpected instance isn’t going to be the one that stops him in his tracks. Chances are the next one won’t be, either. Or the one after that...
For Syracuse, the sky is never truly falling, at least under Boeheim. It just likes reminding us it’s there every once in awhile. There’s probably a metaphor in there about Syracuse’s infamous winter snowfall acting similarly. Every winter, CNY gets blasted with a frigid chill and snow, and every spring the region thaws out. It may feel like the winter’s never going to end and that the sky could just dump snow on Syracuse forever, bu it never does. Boeheim’s withstood quite a few Syracuse winters at this point, so you better believe he has a good enough jacket to take on yet another.