This is always an unsettling time of year – no matter how well your team played during the regular season, come tournament-time you have zero wins, and your first loss ends your season & sends you packing. Syracuse, @ 30-1, has had it’s best season ever, sits solidly as the #2 team in the country & will be rewarded with a #1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament, which is all very edifying for those of us who bleed Orange. The near-miraculous emergence of sophomore Fab Melo as a dominant force in the paint (he just won the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award), and the development of fellow-sophomore Dion Waiters (he just won the Big East Sixth-Man of the Year Award) has made the Orange a scary match for any team in the country. The points can come from anywhere (they’re the top-scoring team in the conference with no one averaging more than 14) & the defense (a hyper-active, long & strong 2-3 zone) is a nightmare for teams who never play against a zone….a big percentage of their scoring comes from ‘points off turnovers’ forced by that zone. Any fan of college basketball will readily admit that 30-1 is hard to wrap your head around, especially for a team that plays in one of the ‘elite conferences’ like the Big East (in truth, they should be a perfect 32-0, the one loss @ Notre Dame coming when Fab Melo was sitting out a 3-game academic suspension….the Irish had a big white-bread lug underneath that Fab would’ve eaten alive)…..I’ve been a hard-core SU fan for 40 years, and (so far) this season has been the most rewarding & enjoyable. I want to thank Coach Boeheim & his team for this most remarkable season (& apologize to my FB Friends I may have irritated with my steady stream of orange-tinted posts!)
But before we go go shake a leg in the Big Dance, we have the Big East Conference Tournament to play….in the “Mecca of college basketball”, Madison Square Garden….we gained a 2-game bye w/ the top regular season record, and thus play our 1st game today @ noon vs the UConn Huskies, last year’s National Champions….3 of the last 4 SU/UConn BE Tournament games have gone to overtime, including the legendary 6 (six!) OT game…..how ever the Big East Tournament plays out, I’m writing this to give thanks to the Basketball Gods in Hoop-Heaven for the great season, and to petition them for a deep run in the Big Dance….Go Orange!