0 Comments Published on 3.05.2014 by John Brennan
|Well, it WAS a successful senior class...|
"If Chicken Little tells you that the sky is fallin', even if it was would you still come crawlin' back again? I bet you would, my friend. Again, and again, and again, and again."
This has been a rough couple of weeks to be a Syracuse basketball fan. We haven't been used to the team losing. That's what 25 straight wins does. Three losses in four games brings cause for concern, but then a fourth loss in that fifth game -- again, to a conference bottom-feeder -- might bring many in the fan base to think the sky is falling. And for good reason: the team has no forward momentum; no spark on offense; conceivably, no realistic chance to pull out of this slump. Maybe all of that is true. Maybe Syracuse has won 26 games, that's the end of the road for the season, and we'll just see a loss at Florida State, a loss in the ACC Tournament quarterfinal, and a loss in the NCAA Tournament round of 64. But you'll come crawling back to this team; you'll watch them on TV, you'll buy tickets to home games, maybe even away games; many of you will even buy season tickets -- for the first time, or for the seventh or eighth straight season like me. You'll keep crawling back to this team. So, why give up now? Why not support the team and hope that those horrible, sky-falling things don't happen; that Jerami Grant's back feels better, that Trevor Cooney finds his shot, that this team has a tournament turnaround like it did last season? You won't be investing something in this team you weren't already going to invest.
So that's my rant. I start this recap of the Georgia Tech game, because I needed some perspective. Because, this is not a fun recap to write. Syracuse dug itself into a deep hole, with a pathetic offensive effort. Despite an almost-impressive comeback attempt late ion the game, Syracuse fell short and lost to the Yellow Jackets, 67-62.
- On Senior Night, it was fitting that CJ Fair would have a career game. His 28 points matched his career high set just over four weeks ago against Duke. Playing all 40 minutes in his final game in the Carrier Dome, CJ shot 12-25 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds. CJ showed why he's been one of the most important players on the team these last four years, why he was the ACC preseason player of the year, and why he made the right choice to stay for his senior year. But CJ is human, and he couldn't save this team from itself in this game.
- Tyler Ennis is the only other Orange player you can even remotely say anything good about from this game. His 18 points on 7-17 shooting was a decent effort. He also had seven assists and a couple steals. Tyler was on the floor for 37 minutes, and for those times when Trevor or Michael Gbinije ran the point, the team couldn't get much going on offense.
- Tyler Roberson "earned" his first career start. It was essentially a default decision, with Jerami Grant unable to play, and Jim Boeheim preferring to use Gbinije off the bench to provide a spark. Roberson's stats: 1-4 for two points, three rebounds, and a turnover in 23 minutes. Boeheim was very dismissive of Roberson's contributions, leaning really hard on the idea that Grant needs to be back as soon as possible, because Roberson just isn't ready for this kind of action.
- The center position has been, to say the least, an Achilles heel this season, with or without DaJuan Coleman. At least with him, there was a potential for a three-man rotation there, in the event one or two were having an off night. With the current rotation of two (and both typically having off nights), it's just dead weight in the lineup. Boeheim was sure to mention this in his presser.
- 39.1% to 47.1%. That's Syracuse shooting vs. GTech scoring. Yuck.
- Shockingly, somewhat, Syracuse only lost the rebounding battle 39-38. So there's that.
- One more stat, which ends up looking important when your team is down by 12 or 13, narrows that gap to three, but can't quite catch the lead and loses by five: free throws. GTech was 15-21 for 71.4%, while Syracuse was only 7-16 for 43.8%. What if...
So despite the gloom and doom of the last five games, Syracuse still has a shot at a 2-seed in the ACC Tournament; still has a shot at a 1- or 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Still could very realistically see Buffalo in the first round, and Madison Square Garden if they advance to the Sweet 16. Remember, Chicken Little was a bit of a drama queen, and depending on which version of the story you go with, things didn't always end well for Chicken Little... but the rest of world continued on.