Tomorrow night, Jim Boeheim and company will set out on a five-month journey that is most certainly the best time of the year for SU fans all around the world. Monday’s exhibition against LeMoyne comes at a perfect time too, as the football team has dropped five games in a row.
Every season, it seems like expectations are sky-high for the men’s basketball program, and last year’s team certainly didn’t live up to them. With three great incoming freshmen and a hunger to return back to the AP and Coaches’ polls, Central New Yorkers are gearing up for what they hope will be another exciting season of Syracuse basketball.
Here on campus, students’ expectations seem to be enormous too, and while it’s great to see excitement in the community, the season isn’t going to be a cakewalk for Syracuse. It faces a very tough road schedule with games at Georgetown, Duke, Louisville and Virginia and has to face off with Wisconsin at home. It also has a home-and-home with title-favorites North Carolina. The schedule makers definitely did not do SU any favors.
If this wasn’t enough, remember that the Orange will be without Boeheim for nine conference games. Pending a ruling by the NCAA, SU will have to fight through a very tough stretch of ACC games without the man who has single-handedly built this program to what it is today. This includes games against Pittsburgh, Duke, and Virginia on the road, and North Carolina at home. A decision on Boeheim’s appeal should be coming very soon with the season around the corner.
And with all of these intangibles out of the way, expectations need to be tempered simply because of the roster itself. Sure, there is absolute potential for greatness with this team. With two fifth-year seniors, great outside shooting, and varied skillsets, this squad could be a lot better than people think. The problem, on the other hand, is that the margin of error is so slim. For this team to be successful, everything needs to be perfect. Simply put, DaJuan Coleman can’t get hurt, the freshmen need to live up to their enormous expectations, and none of the forwards can be in foul trouble…ever.
Personally, as an outgoing senior at the end of the spring semester, it’s very hard to be realistic about this team. In the last three years the Orange has made a Final Four run and started a season 25-0, so the precedence for greatness has been set. SU will probably end up being a tournament team and will have a shot as a middle seed come March — most programs would be thrilled with that, but things are a little different in Central New York.
What do you think about the Orange’s chances in the ACC this year? Are fans right to be excited about this team, or will it ultimately end in strong disappointment?