So, after along season of college hops in a new league with some major battles against longtime ACC kings Duke having been played, what are the chances that this SU team straightens the boat and wins it all? Duke just lost to Mercer so they are gone, so how are Syracuse's chances?
We think they are good, very good to be there at the Final Four when this all shakes out. The team looked revived against Western Michigan and let's be honest, we all thought they would be staring into the face of an Ohio State team in the next round.Dayton took out the Buckeyes and the Flyers, while formidable may also be quite beatable after they took out OSU. Dayton won't go down without a fight and SU needs to continue to play like they did against WMU. If they get by Dayton, we all are looking at that possible match up against Kansas. Yes, those Jayhawks.
He's cranky, he can be bombastic, he can be in your face, he can be a lot of things, but he is Syracuse Basketball, period. Coach Boeheim has taken SU to heights we only dreamed about in the 70's when he was hired. All those years with so much success, how can you argue having the ol' ball coach around? Who of us ever dreamed that SU would have gone 25-0 to start the season off after all the players that left at the end of last years Final Four team? On paper they looked intriguing but we all felt it would be another season at least before they made any noise. Boeheim has been a master the last several years and this season he was at his best. Will they win it all? With a first round win they have a fighters chance and with that 2-5 streak seemingly behind them, the skies the limit! Boeheim has their attention and has them rolling again.
There have been many special teams here in Syracuse over the years. Some made it into the NCAA Final Four and a few made it to the title game. The ’87 team led by Sherman Douglas, Rony Seikaly, Stephen Thonpson, Greg Monroe, a true freshman named Derrick Coleman along with Howard Triche, Derek Brower, Matt Roe, Keith Hughes, and ‘The Helicopter’ Herman Harried may have been the single most loaded teasm in SU history. They lost on a last second shot as we all know and took it to Indiana the early in the next campaign. The ’96 team lost in the title game to Kentucky and no one saw them making it that far either. Lazarus Sims, Jason Cippola, Todd Burgan, Otis Hill, and Rochester, NY native John Wallace put up a fight and shocked the world. The 2003 team saw the arrival of heralded freshman Carmelo Anthony along with some young shooter named Gerry McNamara who along with Hakim Warrick, Kueth Duany, Craig Forth and company finally gave coach Boeheim a title. This SU team has many of those same ingredients as those other teams, youth, seniors, and talent. Hey, why not these guys?
Delaware’s native son Trevor Cooney may be that lightning rod that pushes this team from a struggle to domination much the way McNamara did in 2003. When he lights it up it changed the dynamic of the team. It opens up the lanes, changes the opposing teams defense, and let’s face it, when a team nails three’s it’s hard to keep up especially when that team also can strike from so many other spots at the same time. This team can do all of that. It’s no secret that as SU struggled down the finish line, Cooney was non-existent. In the opener of the NCAA tournament, he found the net and SU went on to a fairly easy and dominating win that they sorely needed. Remember, the NCAA’s is part sprint, part marathon. These guys won 25 in a row and can win those close battles; with Cooney striking it hot again and if he can stay that way, the skies the limit.
Young Mr. Jerami Grant is the 'X' factor, the one player that no one can really guard. This kid seemingly has more tools and talent in the game than anyone else we have seen and we all wonder just how high this kid can go if he stays. Yes, if he stays is the question lurking in the back of every Syracuse men's basketball fan on the planet.
He skies for rebounds, spins like no other player we have seen, and flies even higher when he sees a clear path to those unbelievable dunks. He has the wingspan of something from the dinosaur age and the agility of, well, maybe one of those special guys that makes us all watch in awe for years to come in college and the pros.
He has the pedigree and is straight up just a class act on and off the court. Grant may be to this years team as Warrick was to the 2003 National Championship team.
Okay, I know, I am taking an easy one here: cheerleaders. Syracuse has a whole group of hot cheerleaders and we all know it, we just don’t say it. They make us stand and shout, they make us smile, they make us enjoy the game experience when the team struggles. The SU cheerleading squad and dance squad have the ‘It’ factor. It is rare that you see them mentioned or lauded but it is time they get their due. The SU gals (and guys) do an awesome job. We all appreciate them and we all watch them be it live or on TV. Many squads get the ‘hottest cheerleaders’ tag and as I watched this season I wondered where was the mentions for this crew? We have some talented gals (and guys) on the hill and this is their just due. Go SU! Go SU cheerleaders! They deserve a spot among all the lists that are made about the ‘hottest’ in the college ranks. Now they have one.
We all breathed a heavy sigh of relief when, after some debate and feelers put out there, CJ Fair decided to come back to SU for his senior season. And what a season this superbly talented young man has had despite getting all the attention fromk every team SU has faced this year. Double and triple teamed, one really bad, questionable call at Duke, and a second-team All- American (really? 2nd team?) Mr. Money has smoothly gone about his business of hitting the clutch shots, taking over when he needed to and quietly snaring all those rebounds along the way. He glides, he slithers, he has one of the most unreal finger rolls in the game. CJ has been Mr. Consistent. No big headlines of trouble or character issues, just once this season did he question anything and that was Boeheim losing his cool and getting tossed at the Duke game. For the record, that was JB’s one and only in-season ejection, CJ never let it come to anything beyond that one quote, and SU rolled on. We will miss this guy when he is gone.
Mr. Smooth. Mr. Cool. Mr. Clutch. The young man from Canada has quietly shocked us all and even old Boeheim has had little to say or scream about with the floor general that is Tyler Ennis. In the long line that is SU’s heralded point guards, Tyler has made his own name here, and that is saying something. Boeheim has lauded him as the best he has ever had here and those words should be taken for what they are, we all know JB can be hard on his players, with Ennis, we have not really seen that at all. If you watched the team as they traveled into Canada during pre-season, you knew then that this kid just may be the answer at the point after losing so much the last couple seasons. He is different and talented. He plays like a seasoned vet. He can take over and score when he needs to but never forces much and his turnover to assist ratio has been outstanding all season long. Will he stay? Word is that he won’t talk about going pro until he wins a championship. Let’s hope that is true, but he also just may lead them there this year.