NCAA Men's Basketball: Why Syracuse Hoops Is Still in Good Shape
After a tough week that saw the Orangemen drop back-to-back matchups against two highly ranked Big East rivals, even the fiercest of Syracuse supporters have had their confidence shaken.
A loss to Villanova stings just a bit more when it comes inside the Dome, but is still very respectable. Pitt is also a tough team to beat, regardless of where they play, but they are near impossible to rattle inside of the comfortable confines of the Petersen Events Center.
Fear not Syracuse fans, you will be back to celebrating victories beginning this week, and the future is looking mighty bright as well. Grab yourself a fresh slice of cheese pizza at Cosmo's and prepare to leave your fears behind.
Boeheim Has Been Here Before
A coach with 800+ wins under his belt, who has been around since Jimmy Carter was hangin' in the oval office, won't be fazed by two loses against talented squads.
Jim Boeheim has made a career out of harnessing the potential of young men who quite frankly, have little to no control at all. Equipped with a roster consisting mainly of underclassmen, Boeheim has been as sharp this year as any. He has relied heavily on senior Rick Jackson and junior Kris Joseph, but it's been the outstanding play of underclassmen such as Brandon Triche and James Southerland that has really been impressive to witness.
Boeheim always seems to get the most of his younger players and puts a ton of faith in his team leaders to lead by example. This is an important advantage that most schools outside of Duke and a few others just don't have. A coach that has the ultimate trust and respect from his athletes will win out more often than not.
The Big East Is Stacked, and There Is No Way Around It
The Big East is unquestionably the premiere conference in all of the land, and believe it or not, that only serves to help its members.
Whenever a league can boast promises to send upward of 10 teams to the big dance, its doing something right. The Big East currently has seven teams ranked in the Top 25, and there are a couple more knocking on that door each and every week.
The reality of the situation is that being in a league that is so incredibly strong only serves to help these teams as they prepare for March Madness. Just about every game these schools play comes with that championship atmosphere that most schools only see in March. The obvious advantage of playing in such an intense environment on a day-to-day basis is that it leaves teams such as Syracuse well prepared when the time comes to lace 'em up for the dance.
Syracuse also has had the luxury of getting most of its big games out of the way early. A date with UConn awaits next week, and Villanova will come calling once again at the end of February, but other than those contests, all their remaining games are winnable.
Getting to the tournament is a given, but getting there and putting themselves into an advantageous position to make a deep run are what is left on the Orange's plate.
Scoop Jardine Makes It Happen
In order to make any kind of strong run at the National Championship a team must first have a rock solid point guard, and the Orangemen have that in Scoop Jardine.
A floor general is so pivotal to the success of a college basketball team because he best reflects the personality and style of the coach. The ability to perform up to the expectations of a legendary coach on a regular basis is often overlooked, but never underestimated.
Jardine consistently finds himself in the right place at the right time and is constantly working to make his teammates look stellar. His six assists per game average puts him right near the top in that category, and his ability to create off the dribble leads to easy baskets for the big guys working the paint. Jardine's 13 points per game are not to be taken lightly either, and often times he can be found taking games over in the waning minutes to assure victory.
Whenever a team has a point guard that can control the tempo of a game all on his own and dictate the pace of play, victories and title celebrations can't be far behind.
A Rabid Fanbase Will Always Bring The Added Edge
Another aspect Syracuse fans can feel good about is that they bring great energy each and every time their boys suit up.
The value that an engaged and intense fanbase can bring to a team full of dudes who are used to playing in front of their boys at the park can never be underestimated. Wherever the Orange take the court, you can be sure that hordes of fans will flock and get rowdy.
One of the few real advantages left in college basketball comes from the fans in your own building. The ability to ramp up the energy and decibel levels at the perfect moment are what make teams like Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina and Pittsburgh so tough to beat year in and year out.
If the Orange happen to drop another couple games headed into March (and they will), don't stress it. They will be right in the thick of the chase when its all said and done, just like they are supposed to be.