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How Long Can Syracuse Basketball Remain #1 As Big East Play Begins?

Democrat & Chronicle

Syracuse enters Big East play tomorrow night as the #1 team in the country, and with a few exceptions has cruised to a 13-0 record.  After last week’s 80-61 win over Tulane however, the Orange downplayed the importance of the undefeated start, knowing it means little if they can’t maintain it in conference play.  Not surprisingly, Jim Boeheim set the tone for what SU has accomplished so far.

“We have good players and they have played well when they needed to. Most of the good teams are at that point, so it is nothing really unusual. There are a lot of good teams and usually at this point there are a lot of teams who are 10-2, 10-1 or something like that. It is not unusual.”

 To The Per’fesser, the flawless staer is not nearly as important as how those games have prepared his team for Big East play.

“I think we have done what we had to do. It is nice to get to this point and not have a loss. We had two or three games that could have gone the other way very easily. We played well down the stretch in those games, which is great. I think we were able to get a lot of guys minutes so everybody is comfortable on the basketball court right now. Obviously, once conference play starts, competition steps way up. I think we are prepared for that.”

Following that lead, the players also have kept level heads.  Leading scorer and senior leader Kris Joseph knows his team hasn’t really won anything yet.

“We’re not surprised, because this is what we expected of ourselves as a team. We don’t worry about what anybody on the outside says, but we expected to be 13-0. We had a couple great tests in the non-conference but there’s nothing like the Big East, every night’s going to be a dog fight. I think we’re ready for that.”

Syracuse has had no trouble so far dealing with the pressure of being top dog, but there’s an enormous difference between Bucknell and Tulane motivated for the upset of a lifetime, and the daily grind of the Big East schedule with the target on your back.  Joseph has already gone through that grind three times, and knows its a whole different ball game.

“The young guys don’t know what it’s like yet, but they’ll find out soon enough. Everything has to come up a level – the intensity in practice has to step up, everything has to step up, because it’s time for Big East.”

SU will be tested right away, when 11-1 Seton Hall visits the Dome tomorrow.  Nobody needs to remind the Orange what type of threat the Pirates pose, as they handed SU its worse loss of the season last January, 90-68 in the Carrier Dome. Revenge will be on the mind of guys like Dion Waiters come game time.

“I can’t wait, this is what we want. Seton Hall, they got us bad last year, and it left a sour taste in my mouth. I can’t wait to get out there and play those guys again.”

Syracuse appears to have what it takes to keep its undefeated run going and hold onto #1 for awhile, but from this point on it’ll have to earn it against the toughest conference in America.

Posted: Steve Neikam

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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