Raw Emotion: Syracuse Players Pour it All Out After Devastating End of Season

A dramatic season came to an abrupt ending, and the passion spilled out in the locker room.

Lost amidst the anger toward the officiating, the frustration with a missed opportunity, and the emptiness no Final Four, is the simple sadness of the Syracuse players. This was easily Jim Boeheim’s most chaotic and wild season ever, and raw emotions filled the press conference and locker room Saturday night, feelings bottled up over a roller-coaster year.

After SU’s 77-70 loss to Ohio State in the Elite Eight, it was the senior leaders who were the most visibly shaken. The tears Kris Joseph had to fight back postgame signified the end.

“It’s – it’s tough. It’s real tough knowing that my career is over. And knowing I won’t be playing with these guys again.”

K-Jo was speechless numerous times. Dion Waiters sat in the locker room alone with a towel over his face. Scoop Jardine balled his eyes out. All three knew their time on the Hill was over. The Orange had stayed so tough, and so resilient throughout a season with one drama after another. How many times did we wonder whether they could stay focused? How could they possibly ignore all the off court issues? Remarkably, the team handled everything with maturity and unselfishness. But it also led to a sickening feeling after the game for Jardine.

“It hurts so much. You play with a group of guys that you work so hard with all year, to get to this moment, and it hurts because you came up short. The loss hurt, but me not playing with these guys for the rest of my life hurts even more. They’re like my brothers.”

Scoop and Dion finished their SU careers on the bench. It was painful to watch down the stretch. But Boeheim admitted his team did not come through offensively when it needed to, and lacked the patience necessary for a tough matchup like OSU. SU didn’t get the high percentage looks it had just two nights earlier. The Orange could not capitalize during Jared Sullinger’s 13-minute absence in the first half, settling for a 29-29 tie heading into the locker room. Boeheim knew that was the difference maker.

“That’s where I think we lost the game. We needed to be in a better position at the end of the half. [Our effort] wasn’t good enough. We needed to do a better job in the first half offensively.”

While fans have bludgeoned the officiating, neither Boeheim nor the players chalked up the loss to the refs. SU’s inability to move the ball effectively and get to the rim cost this team. It was a valiant fight in the second half, but Brandon Triche said the Buckeyes were too much.

“You never want to lose like this. We missed a lot of easy shots that could have really helped us. They outrebounded us, right when Sullinger came back in. I think they just wanted it a little more than us.”

And the one that hangs over all of CNY is What if Fab had played?” What if Melo was there to man up Sullinger? Maybe SU coverts some of those easy shots. Maybe the Orange builds a big halftime lead because of Sully’s void. Maybe SU’s season is still alive. It’s a bitter way to end, one win short of New Orleans, during a season where salt was dumped into every one of this squad’s open wounds. And they still hung tougher than anyone would have expected, and spilled out every ounce of heart and soul they could have onto the Garden floor.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

13 Comments on this Post

  1. orangeskin

    Scoop played his heart out and if not for he and Brandon, we aren’t even close. Dion picked a bad night to lay an egg, and Kris played scared on offense the entire tournament. He did a good job defensively on Deshaun Thomas. Really the failure to get much (due to foul trouble) out of James and C.J. hurt. But, I’m bitter and think the refs had more to do with the outcome of the game than anything else. They called fouls on Baye and Rakeem for holding their hands straight up in the air and Sullinger made contact with them. If that’s a foul at all, it’s an offensive foul. I could go on and on about the fouls, but the two missed layups in the first half (dunk it Kris!) were huge, as was SU’s lack of energy once Sullinger left with 2 fouls. They let down when they needed to put their collective foot on the gas. Yes, Dion is likely gone, although he’d do well to come back, and if he needs to know why, he should watch Saturday’s tape. He isn’t ready yet against top shelf athletes night in, night out. But, I’m sure he’s gonna hear late first round and take the gamble. Hopefully Jonny gives him a call. Fab is gone too, and he probably was gone even before he was ruled ineligible. I will say it: Fab plays, SU wins. Flat out. No doubt about it. SU has a good team coming back. MCW will totally blow up next year and will average double figure points and 6+ assists per game. Brandon will be big too. What will be interesting is who starts at SF. That will be a competition between James and C.J. I favor C.J. because he can drive to the hoop more effectively than James. At PF will be Dajuan Coleman, who will be a Sullinger with a better jump shot. At center will be Rakeem, unless Nerlens Noel comes to SU. If Nerlens comes, either Baye or Rakeem gets redshirted. We will have Cooney next year with 4 years of eligibility and the jump shot to punish Pitino’s zone. We will also have Jerami Grant, who will be a good one, but we probably shouldn’t expect too much out of him next year. Too many guys in front of him. Time to go zebra hunting.

  2. O Fitzy-
    From Espn.com, “At one point, I counted four future NBA lottery picks [Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo] on the court for North Carolina….”
    And another potential lottery pick, Kendall Marshall was out with injury.
    Putzy, you still sticking with SU/Kentucky as the two best teams in tourney this year?

    Or was that weak minded opinion made after watching the SU-Cornell game?
    Seriously, man how about a job in sales?
    Based on your second grade analysis,
    you did the best sales/snow job ever just to this gig.
    Imagine waht you could accomplish selling womens shoes?

  3. orangeskin – I’m with ya. Scoop was maddening at times over the course of his career, but by his senior season he became a true leader. He was relegated to the bench vs. OSU, but he had been the emotional go to guy in so many of the big wins. What a transformation for him.

  4. Orangeskin: The thing on Scoop…I don’t think I can remember a a time this season during a meaningful stretch where he seemed rattled or unconfident, or let the turnovers get to him. Sure there were occasions where he turned ball over way too much, over-aggresion. But he never looked afraid. That’s what I want from my PG. He never usually let anything bother him, but this year really exemplified that. And I agree..actually very excited about next years front court. Expect Baye/XMas to really exceed expectations (And yes I did throw Baye in there).

    August: You didn’t know? I’m a shoe-selling extraordinaire…Brittany Grinner is my #1 customer…and she can dunk.

    Come on, August, if I remember correctly I thought I saw TWO #1 seeds fall in their regional finals to teams with a stellar big man and great guard play. And that’s w/ each team w/o one of their impact players. I would have still stuck to SU/Kentucky if Melo had played throughout the tourney. Elite 8 was probably further than many had expected w/o Melo. No excuses though, they did bow out before a trip to NO. Might well have seen Cuse/UNC in F4 matchup if Marshall played as well. Now tell me..what size shoe you need?

  5. have you done the ws40 on tyler zeller? He’s a +3 his best year. But on avrgeae, career wise he’s a +1.5 (20minutes+,10 games played+)His brother Cody has much better career scores. I dont think Arturo ever explained the Yogi and Booboo logic to us. I’ve been grading the avrgeae WS40 the GMs have historically picked regardless of pick level. So I know a lot of WS40s by heart. Then I looked over at thenbageek and realize a lot of the +2s or +1s seniors don’t do so well their first 4 years.It’s the +4s and +3s that have a good chance to make it. Kyrie Irving was a +4 (Relative Rebound Adjusted Win Score 40 above 7) and he was a .120 WP48 his rookie year (starter level). Really rare. Sometimes I feel that the new Rebound adjusted win score model is meaningless in the great scheme of things. It was only changed to silence critics. In the great scheme of analysis. that .5 of defensive rebounds is practically meaningless.

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