Syracuse Orange Basketball: What the Orange Still Have to Be Thankful for

Andrew PreglerContributor IIINovember 24, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 23:  Kris Joseph #32 of the Syracuse Orange drives the ball against Jarell Eddie #31 of the Virginia Tech Hokies during the 2011 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden on November 23, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The start to this season has been anything but ideal for the Syracuse Orange Basketball team. The allegations leveled against Bernie Fine threaten to unsettle the program and may hurt recruiting

Though it may not appear so at first glance, the Orange still have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. 

Sticking to on-the-court issues first, the Orange should be thankful for the maturation of their key players. Fab Melo worked hard in the offseason to lose weight and learn hustle. It has paid off this season as his defensive and offensive abilities have greatly improved.

Dion Waiters, a player who at the end of last season looked to be transferring, leveled his head and showed his leadership and skill in the Orange's win against Virginia Tech in the NIT Season Tip Off. 

Finally, James Southerland looks like a legitimate X factor, showing range from behind the arc and improved ball-handling inside to match. 

The Orange can also be thankful for the return of Kris Joseph. The health of Joseph may still be suspect, but he has shown himself to be the go-to player on this team, leading by example and leading the team with 14.8 points a game. 

On a light note, Syracuse can be thankful Otto will be getting a makeover. Otto has looked a little ragged and this is a good time for a little revamp of everyone's favorite Orange. 

Moving to off-the-court issues, Syracuse can also be thankful for good crisis management. While the Bernie Fine allegations are damaging, the Syracuse situation is not like Penn State. The Syracuse administration is in front of everybody, issuing statements and taking a firm stance behind their 2005 investigation. 

This situation is less than perfect and political squabbling will not help. The Orange can be thankful that at this time, these are all just allegations. This is not a 23-page grand jury testimony, Fine has not been publicly exposed by Bob Costas and he has the full support of the Syracuse coaching staff.