The self-imposed post-season ban has finally begun to sink in around Syracuse and with acceptance, comes understanding. Whatever slim chance there was of the Orange taking part in the NCAA tournament is gone. Syracuse will play their last game of the season on March 7th against N.C. State.
There will be no games in mid-march but that there is still plenty to play for. Syracuse is one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country with the fifth most wins of all Division I schools. With this great history, comes tremendous pride not just from the team and players but also from the fans.
This school and team have too much pride to quit just because they are ineligible for the postseason. People on-campus and in the Syracuse area bleed orange and have too much pride in being part of Syracuse to give up on this basketball season.
In a joint statement, Syracuse captains Rakeem Christmas, Tevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije expressed their disappointment in the ban but vowed, “this won’t change how hard we will continue to work in practice and in games.”
In addition, Syracuse has the chance to play spoiler. The Orange still have two games against old Big-East rival Pitt, who is an NCAA bubble team. Handing the Panthers a couple of loses would significantly damage their chances of making the post-season and Orange fans would take some satisfaction in that.
Every Syracuse player and fan would also love of this team could still pick up a statement win over the likes of Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame or Louisville. While a win against one of these teams would be meaningless in terms of the post-season, everyone can take pride in dethroning one of the ACC powerhouses this year.
Lastly, the individual players still have plenty to prove, particularly Kaleb Joseph. While he has shown improvement, Syracuse fans would like to see more from the freshman and the “no pressure” games at the end of the season could be huge for him going forward.
With all of the pressure to qualify for the post-season gone, the Orange can focus on playing for pride. As no player currently on the team had anything to do with the violations that caused this ban, this team can still represent Syracuse well and can still be the pride of Central New York.
Posted: Logan Grossman