Friday, March 12, 2010

Syracuse's Early Ouster, Not Big East Powerhouse


Before I had confidence in them, willing to fill out a bracket and applaud what had the features of the deepest team eligible for all the mayhem in March. But after yesterday, it’s hard to believe in the Syracuse Orange engraving another breathtaking epic classic with endless adrenaline lasting until midnight in the Big East, or even greater in the NCAA tourney.

Having seen the Orange precisely regulate an evident theory that the Big East is the one conference consisting of the most talent, all presumptions may have been misguided perspectives. Any team is vulnerable of suffering an unexpected letdown in gusty moments, when much is at stake as to earning a No. 1 seed and clinching a Final Four berth.

However, it is clear Syracuse isn’t Final Four caliber, stumbling at a time of desperation, a time a win enlarges a pure sense of confidence. This was considered an imposing chance, an awe-inspiring chance for the Orange to raise another championship banner, and appease an enthusiastic sporting school where the students await March wishing yet for another epic finish.


With five minutes remaining, arguably, the deepest powerhouses of the Big East glanced at the possibilities of clinching a No. 1 seed and winning the conference title diminish, suddenly becoming a fading program that had much capacity to arrive at the biggest dance.

Throughout recent struggles, Syracuse has hit unfamiliarity, after winning a national championship and two Big East titles. Back in the state of mediocrity, some are convinced that the Orange still could maintain a No. 1 seed, based on its reinforcement to emerge to new heights with its flourishing players.

Only this time, an upsetting 91-84 loss Thursday afternoon at the world’s most-respected venue may have smeared any conceivable assumptions of the top-seeded Orange locking up a No. 1 seed after squandering a nine-point second-half lead and trailing No. 8 Georgetown by 6 points.

No longer a menace, Syracuse was referred to as the most vigorous and bottomless program in the nation, with solid ingredients foreshadowing a premier school. It’s fitting to assume the Orange are relevant, but instead a team that may actually fall in the NCAA tournament prematurely, especially if slumps continues to downsize chances of a national title.


Believed to be the toughest out, the Orange aren’t a team known for playing from behind. With the exception of losing four games all season, winning 28 games brainwashed the minds and bracket experts of picturing an imposing ride to the Final Four, but after the unfortunate loss of senior center Arinze Onuaku to a right knee strain, the Orange may lose morale and tries finding fortitude elsewhere.

Overall, the program is languishing at the worst possible time, when contending to win it all demonstrates the worthiness of any school with immeasurable promise to reach glory.

The beauty of the NCAA tourney is winning, and also strengthening the athletic program by luring in more recruits and profit to put together the most compelling program in all college basketball, a usual trait Syracuse commits to so well.

Very wisely, coach Jim Boeheim has built and solidified a powerhouse in the Big East, a program that wasn’t even projected in the preseason top 40, based upon losing three prolific starters from last season.

Doesn’t everyone remember the indelible moment at last year’s Big East tournament?

Reminisce with me:

In a six-overtime thriller, the Orange somehow survived an exhausting marathon captivating all populace to stay awake and witness an epic contest that ended at exactly 1:25 a.m., becoming the longest game in Big East Tournament history.

Settling for 127 points to defeat the third-seeded Connecticut in the quarterfinals defined a breathtaking contest for the ages, orchestrated by gifted point guard Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf, whom opted to depart after coming up short in the Sweet 16.

However, the latest class captured a recognizable deed, unlike last year’s class.

For the first time in 20 years, the Orange claimed a top-seed, but unlike in the previous year, faltered holding on to an honorable possession after receiving 59 first-place votes from the national media panel.

So in large part, seeing the Orange decline illustrates an early ouster, even though it’s a program with massive talent.

Meanwhile, there are still a few players optimistic.

“I think we’re still one of the most consistent teams in the country where we can get a No. 1 seed,” Scoop Jardine said after the frustrating upset against the Hoyas.

After two consecutive losses and the injury of Onuaku, the dominant force inside the interior gives me second thoughts.


Leery of the sudden juncture considering that the Orange won seven of eight against teams ranked in the Top 25 poll, it’s not easy imagining them clinching a No. 1 seed or a Final Four berth unless Syracuse begins to awaken and polish. All of which, the recent breakdown stains all possibilities of earning a top-seed, putting all endless opportunities in jeopardy.

“I hope they’ll still be with us,” said Jardine. “We’ve been consistent all year. We have to get six wins…I think we’re capable of getting six wins. Hopefully ‘Cure Nation’ is still with us.”

Of course, "Cure Nation" is still by their sides, hopeful the Orange reshapes into a contender and solaces all conceptions of falling early.

“We can’t let these losses get us down,” said Andy Rautins, the explosive three-point shooter. “Come April, I don’t think anyone will remember this.”

In a sense, the Orange envisions a potential surge, lulled of reestablishing and legitimizing parity. What is viewed as a well-balanced program, Syracuse needs to benefit from Andy Rautins’ three-point shots. They need to benefit from Wesley Johnson’s midrange jumpers, a streaky shooter whose numbers dropped in prior weeks.

Only problem is he could be worn down, and if his opponents are really physical, Johnson doesn’t play as effectively. At least there’s the 2-3 zone defense, a philosophy inserted by the Hall of Fame coach Boeheim, probably the most stabilized in all of college hoops.

And certainly, the magnitude of an admirable event is to rise to the top, but suddenly disintegration ruins the delirium of March.

So what we assumed was promising, seems currently doubtful.