It is no secret that spirits are low in Central New York. Syracuse dropped to no. 7 in the polls this week and host Georgia Tech tonight on Senior Night. The Orange faithful will say goodbye to seniors C.J. Fair and Baye Moussa Keita. Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis might also be playing their final game in the Carrier Dome, as both are projected first-round picks in the 2014 NBA draft.
The word of the week for the Orange is urgency. Syracuse has seen losses in three out of the past four games and has looked lost on both sides of the ball. Although two of the games were against very respectable ranked opponents, the Orange is not familiar with a lot of losing this season and, more importantly, how to bounce back from tough stretches. Many remember how Syracuse suffered a crushing defeat to Louisville in the 2013 Big East Tournament last season but did not let the loss prevent them from reaching the Final Four. Every team goes through adversity but it is crucial to see how this year’s Orange squad handles high expectations going into March.
Looking forward, Syracuse only has tonight’s game and a road matchup with Florida State before tournament season finally begins. Urgency again becomes a factor with limited time left before games that “really matter” start. The Orange could either look at these next two games as limping to the finish line of the regular season or take this opportunity to find itself and gain momentum against lesser ACC teams. If Jim Boeheim has his way, it will be the latter rather than the former.
Another key to how the Orange will be able to rebound will be depth. Jerami Grant is day-to-day with back pain after only playing 13 minutes against Virginia. Grant is a consistent scorer for the Orange and the team cannot afford to be without him. Unlike two years ago, Syracuse does not have much depth on the bench behind Baye Moussa Keita and Michael Gbinije. We also saw how Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita got into foul trouble early against the Cavaliers. Opponents will try to exploit Syracuse’s lack of depth as the weakness has been exposed several times recently.
The season is far from over for the Orange. Syracuse lost eight games before heading into the Big East Tournament last year and still made the Final Four. Some always say that a few losses during the regular season are good come tournament time. Let’s see whether this rough patch can be turned into a positive for Syracuse.
Posted by: Zephan Mayell