Syracuse, NY ~Mid February
A Syracuse team that has had trouble gelling finally gets it and makes a run. Finishing out their last 10 games impressively, including big wins over the stretch. The toppling of Georgetown is among these victories. The biggest snub in NCAA history occurs, and this 22-10 team who finished 5th in the Big East (A power conference) somehow gets the boot from the selection committee. Upstate NY is thrown for a loop.
Fast Forward to Mid-March.
Same team is on the floor in a post-season tournament (not the one they wanted, but let's stick it to Walters). Run through the first two rounds of the tournament, including setting a record for NIT attendance along the way in the Carrier Dome, with arguably the best crowd of the season. The world is riding high on 'Cuse hoops (or at least we all are).
Travel to Clemson to take on a Tigers team that is in the dumps, but has been rolling much like the Orange in the NIT. Clemson decides to hit everything from beyond the arc in the first half, finishing at .474 for the game (season long .338 team), while Cuse, a team known for it's shooting hits .188, the only shooter hitting being D. Nichols. You'd think we get blown out, and figure the season is a wash right?
Of course not! We rebound from a 17 point deficit in the second half, make a 22-7 run, and bring the game back within a point under a minute. I called it perfectly over in my South Alabama post-game thread, the state of Cuse Hoops has been a roller coaster for the last few years, every game.
The seniors gave everything they have to keep this run alive, and I respect them for it. The more I look back on it, the more I'm going to miss this group. They may not have been the smartest players, (Hoops IQ-wise), but damn it they gave everything they had on every day it seemed. From the heartache vs Wichita State when DNic missed the layup, to Roberts playing the end of the season and finishing it out on one leg, these guys have been great. Watching Mookie develop into a legitimate Center, and even seeing Gorman rocking around in his assless chaps at Providence...
Basically all I'm trying to say is that it was good to see this group of seniors step up and take the reigns, when at the beginning of the season everyone wondered "What will we do without Gerry?" Well, I'm here to pose a new question "What will we do without DNic? or Mookie?" There are some gaps to fill now and hopefully we can have immediate impact from Flynn, Greene, Scoop, and Jackson when they show up on campus to fill those shoes.