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Year-in-review: John’s favorite TNIAAM articles (that he wrote) in 2019

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I wrote some things this year. Perhaps you read them.

Wake Forest v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

There are a lot of words spent talking about the Syracuse Orange on the webpages of TNIAAM, and I do write quite a few of them. Some of those words — and the articles they appear in — are better than others, though. And what’s collected below is probably a list of the better ones (in my opinion, anyway).

For those that wanted to revisit some of the year’s better articles, I pulled together a list of the ones that most resonated with me below. These are just pieces I wrote, however. If you’d rather read the great things the rest of the TNIAAM staff wrote, there’s a separate article for that as well.

These are in chronological order, so don’t imply anything from how they appear. Also, there are 13 of them. Nothing to surmise from that specific number. It’s just where things wound up landing.

Which Syracuse is the exception, and which is the rule?

Capturing the essence of the post-sanctions era of Orange men’s basketball, we looked at the numerous highs and lows that have made up recent seasons and difficult it is to be in a situation where everything’s all good or all bad, with no middle ground. This piece was really a prelude to the article I wrote in December, discussing what needs to change under Jim Boeheim. Points from both still stand.

Spring break, six overtimes and remembering Syracuse vs. UConn a decade later

Every Syracuse fan has their own six overtime story, and this one just happened to be mine. Though the game happened 10 years ago, I — again, like most of you — could paint a pretty rich story about the entire contest and all that happened around it, and what that means to me and my fandom.

What have Final Four teams looked like over the last decade?

This year’s team is a far cry from what’s required to get to the Final Four, but perhaps there’s a future where it’s feasible again? If Syracuse is going to do it, said future squad probably needs to resemble what’s outlined here: A team that’s balanced. And/or one that is top-10 on defense if they’re going to be skewed toward one direction or the other.

Can Syracuse football replicate turnovers from 2018?

Ends up that they largely could (the Orange had 25 in 12 games this year, but 31 in 13 last year), but what we didn’t realize was how much the offense could regress to swing the scoring margin the other way. It’s an interesting piece to look back on too when figuring out what we want out of a future defensive coordinator. An aggressive, ball-hawking approach seems critical to success at this point.

The continuing myth of Syracuse players and a lack of NBA defensive ability

We can be a sensitive bunch about hoops at times, but in this case, it’s warranted. Yet another piece mentioning “typical concerns about Orange players’ defense in the NBA” led us to investigate the claim a bit further. Ends up it’s false. You’re surprised, I know.

Wake Forest v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Is Syracuse football’s Friday event a #BRAND gamble?

When unveiling the new football jerseys, SU invited folks to Turning Stone in an event that was largely geared toward bigger money donors. That’s fine, I suppose. But if you want to keep growing your connections to local fans, would think that a wider and more family friendly event would be the better play. Considering how the season turned out, that may have been the better idea in hindsight, too.

Syracuse football: There was never a script for this

Ah, the simpler times of being ranked in the top 25 and wondering what to do with all of this excess optimism. Perhaps there wasn’t a script for the sort of season we were expecting because it wasn’t going to happen anyway.

Syracuse football: Being ‘back’ is not that simple

Another spin on the “progress is rarely linear” line. Going 10-3 last year was a great accomplishment, but it didn’t necessary mean Syracuse football was “back,” as I made the case about following a lackluster 24-0 win over Liberty to open the year. Ends up we weren’t back and this game was in part a precursor to that discovery. It doesn’t mean we’re moving backwards, however. Just that it takes more than just one season to jump back up a rung in college football.

Syracuse’s season will be defined by what happens next, not what’s occurred

After the 1-2 start, we were looking for reasons for optimism, and the main one was that there were still a lot of games to play. Obviously Syracuse didn’t make it to bowl eligibility, but the fact that they got close despite all of the struggles did seem like a sign of... something.

Syracuse football gets exactly what they need, when they needed it most

Then there was this game vs. WMU, which showed a team take care of business against a good MAC opponent — but also benefit from some absences for the Broncos. If this season was meant to turn around, it would’ve happened following the win here.

Syracuse football: Belief without evidence, vs. evidence without belief

The Boston College game was a breaking point for many holding out hope that the 2019 season could turn around for the Orange. It also laid the groundwork for most of us to finally getting on the same page around Dino Babers and the job he did this year vs. the job he’s done overall. Dino’s done a good job overall, but did a bad job for much of this past year. That creates issues, but not insurmountable ones.

Syracuse football: What we tell ourselves when faced with tough questions

And then a couple weeks later, we had to go further down that road. I’ve certainly been a staunch Dino defender — though not blind to the flaws of this era so far — but officially being eliminated from bowl eligibility following the loss to Louisville led to thinking about how the present colors your opinions of the past and future in any relationship.

Syracuse’s season full of missed chances reminds us the cake is never perfect

Many of these Sunday articles I’ve written after Syracuse football games serve as my own internal commentary (and at times struggle) when thinking about the program. In this case, following a 5-7 season full of near-misses and also complete disaster all at once, the end was an opportunity to reflect on how we got here and how it can be avoided going forward.

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Hopefully you got as much out of reading all of these articles as I did writing them. We’re now about three years into this brave “new” world of TNIAAM, and things have gotten more interesting and complicated, sure. But I hope we’re all still on the same team at the end of the day. Thanks for the part each of you play in this community every day. And as always, #CancelCassillo.