Syracuse Basketball: Grading the Orange

The Syracuse Orange closed out the regular season on Sunday with 74-58 win over the Florida State Seminoles.  The win earned the Orange a 27-4 mark for the regular season, a record that, any other year, would have SU fans jumping for joy.  This season, though, the fact that Jim Boeheim’s squad went only 2-4 over their last six has many of the Orange faithful’s panic-o-meter cranked up to 44.

Relax.

Yes, the Orange had their seasonal slide a bit later than usual.  True, that slide included a couple of really bad losses to Boston College and Georgia Tech.  And, of course, one fairly dominant win over the ‘Noles doesn’t erase the flaws shown by Syracuse late in the season.  So, let’s take a moment to take the long view and grade the Orange as they prepare for the post season.

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Welcome to the ACC: The All Conspiracy Conference

When it was announced that Syracuse was joining the ACC, I was immediately excited.  Having grown up with a number of front-running Carolina and Duke fans, I couldn’t wait for the Orange to storm into the conference and make the blue bloods on Tobacco Road rue the day they invited Jim Boeheim and company to the ACC basketball party.

When the conference schedule was released, there was much hand wringing among Orange bloggers I know about how Swofford and his cronies were going to try to screw the newcomers.  Sure, they had to be happy a top-tier program like Syracuse was coming into the fold.  But the ACC has also lived for decades on the myth that it’s a deep basketball conference, when in reality its been the ‘Heels and the Dookies running things for the better part of the last two decades.  Surely they would want the yankees to be put firmly in their place during the first outing.

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Syracuse Orange: Team of Destiny?

With the Syracuse Orange having recently ascended to their third #1 ranking in five years, a lot of the talk has been if Jim Boeheim’s squad is the team to beat.  The notion has been phrased different ways; “the national title Syracuse’s to lose”, “The title is there for the taking”, but all boil down to the idea that Syracuse is really, really good and deserve their share of time at #1.  The fact that Syracuse’s selection was the first unanimous one since  Duke in the 2010-11 season lends weight to that argument and, of course, a 23-0 record doesn’t hurt either.

Yet, looking back at that Orange this season, another phrase comes to mind when I think of this particular squad: a team of destiny.

Now, what do I mean when I say that?  Do I mean that I literally believe some cosmic entity has preordained the Orange to win a national title? Well…no, of course not.  What I mean is that whatever it’s taken for Syracuse to win, that’s exactly what has happened.

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Clash of the Titans: Duke Blue Devils vs. Syracuse Orange

FeloniousPhunk and StrawHatGuy

That’s me and StrawHatGuy. I’ll let you figure out who’s who. (via StrawHatGuy)

So, yeah, that’s me, your newest correspondent for the ‘Cuse.  When that pic was taken, the lucky shirt and hat were enough to help propel the Orange to victory against the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Let’s hope they can do the same this Saturday against Duke.

I’m sure that some of you are already familiar with me.  I write here and there for what is undeniably the best Syracuse blog in all of the Internet.   And (shameless self plug) I’ve recently tried to revive my own version of what I think Syracuse sports looks like.  So when I was asked to be a contributor for The Confidential, I figured, what the hell.  What’s the worst that could happen? Continue reading