(Update: 11:15a. Joe Lunardi still has Syracuse as a 3-seed this morning after the loss. He has the Orange pegged to play North Carolina Central in the first round in Buffalo, placed in the Memphis region. If SU is heading to Western NY despite the terrible last three weeks, Jim Boeheim’s crew should consider itself very fortunate.)
It’s becoming increasingly ridiculous to hear commentators refer to victories over Syracuse as “statement wins.” Who isn’t making statements against the Orange? Stephen F. Austin? Monroeville Vocational?
Another game, another loss. This time in the ACC quarterfinals against NC State. After another horrific shooting night for most of the team, ESPN talking heads suggested the Wolfpack’s victory would send a message to the selection committee. Realistically, the only statement that will be sent to or from said committee will be SU on the 4th seed line. That’s gotta be where the suits place the Orange after a disastrous end to the regular season and a one-and-done trip to Greensboro.
Once upon a time we were talking overall number one seed. Then we shrugged our shoulders and figured as long as they’re in the Buffalo/MSG pod the Orange would be okay. After that we clasped our hands and prayed SU would at the very least be placed in Buffalo for the first two games. Now, everything is a crap shoot.
The problem is not only five losses in its last seven games. It’s not just that the Orange fell to four unranked teams in that span. It’s that the previous close wins will now be seen as flukes, while the close losses the norm. The selection committee will eye Syracuse’s resume and see quality victories. But will also spy the miracle against Pitt, the close shave vs. NC State, the escape of Maryland, and grinding thumper against Miami as evidence Syracuse was never as good as its ranking.
The final possession Friday night will also live forever in Orange infamy. Down three with 20 seconds to go, Syracuse missed a shot off glass, a put back dunk off the carom, then four wildly grotesque three pointers. None of those errant treys were uglier than Trevor Cooney’s shots off the top of the backboard and subsequent airball, which left him 1-6 from the field, all three pointers for the game. Another miserable shooting night for a guy who’s been buried in an avalanche of misses for two months.
It wasn’t just Cooney. CJ Fair was fairly horrible too, shooting a horrendous 3-of-16 for 9 points in the loss. Jim Boeheim never trusted the bench either (which was as predictable as another CNY March snowstorm), with only Baye-Moussa Keita and Mike Gbinije getting burn.
SU played bored, unemotional, lackluster basketball in the first half. During timeouts The Per’fesser was desperately trying to wake them up. But the Orange Zombie Brotherhood has sleeepwalked through the last month, so this was par for the course. The only surprising element being the complete lack of urgency, electricity or fun in the building. The hometown Wolfpack had a lead on the new highly-ranked carpetbaggers from the north. Yet, it felt like the Maui Invitational. Yawns. Polite clapping. Jeez, this ACC tournament thing is more sterile than a Bojangles bathroom. Please, bring it to the Big Apple ASAP. We’ll show you what a postseason tourney should be.
No matter. The Orange did what the Orange has done for a month. Lose to inferior competition. And that whole Buffalo-NYC-Dallas train? Well, it just got derailed again.