The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team has one word to sum up its 2013-14 campaign.
After starting the season with 25 victories against no losses and achieving a No. 1 ranking in the NCAA, the Orange fell back to earth and sputtered into the postseason and finished the season 3-6, including a disappointing loss to Dayton in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.
In the world of Orange basketball, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts in terms of where the team failed.
With a freshman point guard coming in and the team losing three of its top-four scorers, expectations for Syracuse were that the team would be good, but would take time to develop.
The team developed right away and after beating Duke in a thrilling overtime game at the Carrier Dome on Feb. 1, it seemed the Orange were a shoo-in for an ACC championship in their inaugural season.
The basketball gods had something else in mind.
In what could only be described as an institutional collapse, anything that could go wrong with the Orange went wrong.
Aside from losing sophomore forward DaJuan Coleman for the season after a win over No. 8 Villanova on Dec. 28, the Orange's campaign in the new year became a laundry list of unfortunate events.
Trevor Cooney, who started the first half of the season shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc, lost his shooting touch. Rakeem Christmas, while being an effective defender, never found his scoring touch. Tyler Ennis, who had one of the greatest freshman seasons of all time at Syracuse, became a tad sloppier with his play in clutch moments, where earlier in the season it was inconceivable.
Jerami Grant’s back went bad. Baye Keita suffered through a leg injury, and for as good as C.J. Fair has been through his career, he had difficulty handling the ball and struggled to create his own shot.
All of this added up to a team that could defend very well, but as competition became familiar and unafraid, baskets were very difficult to come by.
Without dwelling on it any further, Syracuse sent out a message early that it was going to be a tough out in the NCAA tournament, and to its credit, it was a tough out, for Dayton.
In the wreckage of the season, Syracuse fans are left to look forward and hope the new stable brought in by Jim Boeheim and company can right the ship. Fortunately, the Orange have a stockpile of talent on the bench and some exciting newcomers who may help ease the pain of the memories of a season lost.
Syracuse will bid adieu to Fair, Keita and Ennis, and the word is not yet out on Grant. Coming in are point guard Kaleb Joseph and forward Chris McCullough, who are two of the more exciting freshmen to step on campus for Syracuse in quite a while.
We will now take a look at those freshmen and the biggest questions facing next season’s Syracuse Orange.