Oddly enough, the Duke game is the first opportunity for all of us to see the Orange in person following the self-imposed sanctions. It feels like it has been forever since the sanctions have been self-levied, but it has really only been a week, and the Orange has yet to play a home game. That opportunity comes Saturday, in what is the biggest home game of the season, sanctions or not, Duke.
Whether you agree or not with the postseason ban, it is important to go out and support this year’s team. After all, they are innocent in the matter and are suffering anyway. These players have not done anything related to the sanctions, and we need to remember that when watching the SU games the rest of the way. Think about how this team has played and fought through this season, even before sanctions were announced.
This team sat on the bubble of making the NCAA Tournament, even though the make up of the roster didn’t warrant it and the rotation was far too thin for a team that would make the Tournament. This team battled, played hard every night and was in nearly every game. It was very evident that their best simply wasn’t enough to beat top teams, just look at the game against UNC a couple weeks ago. The Orange put up 83 points, and was in control much of the game, but then just got tired.
This is a resilient team. A team that should be loved. A team with one of the most improved players in the country dominating the low post. A team with a sharpshooter, a guard/forward, that low post threat, and not much else. This is a team that should not have been in the NCAA Tournament discussion, but had played hard enough that it remained in the conversation as one of the first few teams out.
So when the Orange comes home to face Duke, and Rakeem Christmas plays his first of “meaningless games” at the Dome to end his senior season, this team should feel the love that it would have had the sanctions not been levied. There should still be an intensity in the air in the Dome—after all it is the first time the Orange plays Duke since Boeheim was tossed out of Cameron.
So each time Rak dunks over Jahlil Okafor, every time Trevor Cooney drains a three, and when Michael Gbinije slashes through the lane, the Dome should explode. It should feel like the roof is going to pop, just like it would have last year when Jabari Parker fouled out, and the Orange beat the Blue Devils in overtime in an instant classic.
Posted: Seth Goldberg