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Why Syracuse is Perfectly Prepared to Handle the #1 Ranking Bullesye

Boeheim’s coaching has been masterful, and the players are saying the right things.

When SU stepped onto the floor against George Washington Saturday night, it seemed like half the battle was already won. When news broke of #1 ranked Kentucky’s crippling loss to Indiana just before the end of the first half of Syracuse’s 85-50 beat down of the Colonels, the nearly 24,000 inside the Dome erupted. Coupling that with the fact that #2 Ohio State fell as well earlier in the day, it’s seemed like a matter of time before the Orange claimed the top spot in the polls. It’ll be nice to see those orange and white colors on SportsCenter for all the right reasons.

With Bernie Fine controversy swirling around campus the last few weeks, it’s somewhat amazing we can even have this conversation. The play of the Orange has been sharp, and the team continues to downplay the possibility of distractions. Give The Per’fesser credit. He has not allowed the outside circus to swallow his team, and it’s evident SU is taking the right approach when hearing the athletes speak. The Fizz talked with players after the game, and everyone seemed to have the right mindset heading forward. Brandon Triche says the rankings don’t matter, it’s still just business as usual.

“It doesn’t really mean anything. We’re just trying to get better every game, and being #1 doesn’t really mean nothing. [In 09-10] we were #1, and then lost two games in a row. We just want to play our best basketball, and we know we need to get better.”

This is the best SU has played as one cohesive unit for quite some time, but the challenges continue this weekend. Expect an even more physical and aggressive team Saturday when it heads down to face NC State. How will this team play with big red X on its back? Kris Joseph told The Fizz their place in the polls won’t affect this team.

“It won’t change the way we play basketball. We won’t do anything differently. Why change what we’ve been doing? We are just going to have to improve on the things we have been doing, and get sharper on a few things, and we’ll be fine.”

This squad tapered off down the stretch of the ’09-’10 season after elevating to the #1 spot in the nation. But this year’s edition has been laser focused on the task at hand, maybe because of the national media crush that rocked the campus. Dion Waiters echoed to The Fizz, rankings don’t mean much.

“It’s great just to know all the hard work we put in, but it’s just a number aside our name. We’re playing great and we’re still undefeated. We still got ways to get better and more mature as a team also.”

When Dion is espousing maturation, you know its a special season. This is the mindset that will work best for this team. Don’t focus on the number, just win games. Syracuse is on the verge of owning the top spot in America, and appears perfectly prepared to handle the bullseye that comes with it.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

Photo Credit: Kevin Rivoli/AP

9 Comments on this Post

  1. Whats up Team Fizz. Super/cautiously excited about the #1 ranking despite it’s somewhat uselessness. Being a Cuse transplant and now Raleigh resident I can’t wait to play NC State. Not to generalize but the majority of basketball fans down here obviously live in a Dick Vitale induced bubble. It literally is as if they only play the sport here and nowhere else and those schools that aren’t located on Lung Cancer Road errr Tobacco Road are incapable of playing basketball the way it was “meant to be played”.

    They love their ball so much down here that I got 2 tickets behind the State bench for $50. I was wondering if you guys or anyone else from the Cuse was coming down. I have some people coming in for the game but I think taking over a bar for pre game would be a great idea.

    Also, totally off the topic but I didn’t know how much access you had to people close to the football team, i.e., friends/family of players or coaches or perhaps classmates with insight. Like a jilted lover I need closure from this years football season. With rumors of Kobena transferring and Dorian Graham’s somewhat untimely departure I was wondering if there really was a fall out behind the scenes.

  2. when will espn talk about this team /w the likes of osu, uk an unc? Its like we dont count or its taboo to talk highly of the bball team bc of the fine mess. A.katz took a back handed shot at us by sayin osu should have been #1.

  3. Tim Tebow

    So is this like the article that talked about Syracuse going to a BCS bowl?

    You should know by now that a week in december like a teams first BE football game of the season doesn’t mean a whole lot.

    Maybe hold off on the ‘why syracuse will go undefeated’ or ‘why syracuse will win the NC this year” articles

  4. Jesse – Thanks for the comment. Yeah, that game at NC State should be a terrific test for the Orange. Right now the team is playing really well. But good to have challenges when youre #1. Carlton – I think ESPN will be forced to discuss the Orange a lot if it’s still a top5 team come BE play. Those will be bloodbaths. Tim Tebow, no one is talking NCs yet. But it’s impossible not to be impressed by SUs play to this point.

  5. TebowTime:

    I don’t think anyone is saying that this SU team is a national title game lock. Not right now. But they deserve a ton of credit for making it to where they are now despite all the drama that has swirled around the program. This is something to be proud of for all the guys on the squad, and for SU fans as well. They’ve played extremely efficient ball, and until someone knocks them off their throne, they deserve to sit there and be proud of it.

  6. Tim Tebow

    Now Tim, you should think before you speak and understand that just like football, basketball is a thickle discussion that changes every week. Its like a bipolar experience so the talk will be about getting to the title game, (which they will) until they lose this year and nobody will talk about it again…

  7. I’m confused. Did Tim Tebow really comment on this article with a football analogy and then directly respond to himself… with another football analogy?? Wow.

    I agree with the article in that this team is mentally prepared to deal with the #1 over their heads and the bull’s-eye on their backs. I’m as big an SU fan as you will find but I also agree, to an extent, with the critics. The Orange did climb to the top spot in the polls by default and will need a few more convincing victories to ratify their position. But this team is playing some excellent basketball so far and seems aware of and dedicated to the fact that further improvement is needed. Keep it up Cuse! This could be a special year!

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