Syracuse has the right to sing the blues in the off-season. Their fans – myself included – have a right to hold a grudge. But not one of us has the right to let the NCAA tournament selection committee’s decision to shaft Syracuse overshadow the team’s real problems.
Because after watching the NIT – and the entire season, for that matter – it’s clear Syracuse’s sob-story is more like a Greek tragedy.
They had everything a team could want (almost). Bulking size, big league skill and oodles of talent. But they took it for granted – until it was too late.
First off, they lived on the edge way too often. It seems like every game they had to get buried alive or put on life support before they’d start clawing tooth and nail to survive. 24 times it worked. However, the entire season felt like a tear-jerking movie. You’ve seen it; some guy with a nice family, nice house, nice job, and a nice car doesn’t enjoy or care for the things he has, and then he loses it all by some twist of fate – temporarily. It’s only after everything gets taken that he realizes he wants it back, proves his love, and it all works out. The End.
Not the case for the Orange.
Syracuse didn’t deserved to get snubbed. But they deserved a wake-up call. And they didn’t even answer the one they got.
The NIT was the same old story. Get totally out-played, out-hustled, and get out-muscled for 20 or 30 plus minutes – then turn it on in a panic when the walls start to cave-in. That strategy earned them two home wins from two mediocre teams.
Syracuse lacks identity. Yes, they are known for the 2-3 zone. But that’s pretty much it! They don’t rebound, pass, catch, defend, make foul shouts, shoot or finish with any consistency. Real identity comes with taking care of the little things, something Syracuse doesn’t do.
They do hustle – after they screw up. They need to hustle with purpose. They need to hustle with success in mind.
They have potential, they need results. They have leading scorers, they need leaders.
They don’t need to get angry (the NCAA already accomplished that). They need to stay angry and play angry, and carry it into next season.