For the first time in a month the Syracuse Orange looked like a team that could do some damage in the NCAA tournament. They went into their home away from home, Madison Square Garden and dominated Seton Hall, outlasted Pitt and stunned Georgetown. Then on Saturday night, with a chance to close the "Real Big East" with a championship, Jim Boeheim's Orange was playing like a team on a mission. They were dominating the Louisville Cardinals. Watching them swarm on defense, take care of the basketball and knock down open 3's I started to think I was wrong about this team. I started to believe that they could be that team that turns it on late and makes a run through the tournament. Then reality hit me like the clank of a Michael Carter-Williams foul shot. The flaws of this SU team are small, not big. But those small flaws kill like a thousand paper cuts. Those small flaws will be what leads to SU's ultimate basketball demise.
For those of you that haven't really paid a great deal of attention to college basketball on the whole this year, here is something you should know They are no great teams in the country this season. Syracuse has enough talent to beat anyone in the nation. But what will ultimately determine SU's 2012-13 legacy won't be talent. The problem with this team is that they don't do the little things it takes to be a real winner. The Orange don't appear to like to get their hands dirty and work for the results.
Michael Carter-Williams defines this Syracuse team. The sophomore guard has an immense amount of talent and at times looks like the NBA lottery pick he will be in June. But in key moments he exposes the flaws that this entire team seems to posses and that showed so dramatically in the second half against Louisville 1) Nearly every 50-50 ball (that is when the basketball is up for grabs and both players appear to have an equal chance) went to the Cardinals. 2) Syracuse was an embarrassment at the foul line. Missing 14 of 26 freebies, including several front end's of 1 and 1's, dramatically hastening the Louisville comeback. 3) Simple execution and smart decision making was nonexistent.
I heard from many Syracuse fans who were very upset with the officiating in the game and thought that a lack of calls against the aggressive Louisville defense played as big of a role as anything in the loss. While I will give you that the refs appeared to keep the whistles in their pocket for a while, it should not have led to a total SU meltdown. This game was played on a supposed neutral court (though Orange was the color of St. Patrick's Day at the Garden) but Syracuse fell apart like a $79 dollar suit. If there is a Syracuse fan out there who actually belives the Orange ever play with mental toughness, please email me MCatalana@13wham.com
right now and give me an example.
Syracuse will go into the tournament as one of about 20 teams that has a legitimate chance to make a Final 4. But when they are eventually eliminated it won't be by a more talented team. You will watch the game and think "them got outhustled" Or the game will end and you will say "if they could have just made their free throws" Or the season will be over and you will tell your buddy "the turnovers killed us". When James Southerland is making shots he doesn't make Syracuse a great team, he simply masks their many little flaws. Now all James has to do is make shots for the next 3 weeks and you can tell me I am wrong