Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What About 27-1?

The Orange are 27-1, reaching lofty heights that no other Syracuse team has ever reached during the regular season, in the post season era.  There are other teams that had fantastic regular seasons, most notably and recently the 2009-2010 squad that went 28-3 before post season action.

For perspective the 2002-2003 National Championship team went ‘only’ 23-4 during the regular season, and did not win either the Big East Season title or Big East Tournament.  The 1999-2000 team went 24-4 winning the Big East Season title behind Jason Hart and Etan Thomas.

Syracuse went 26-4 in 1990-1991 behind Billy Owens winning the Big East Regular season title. The 1988-1989 Orangemen, perhaps the most talented team Syracuse ever had with Sherman Douglas, Stephen Thompson, Billy Owens and Derrick Coleman went a mere 25-6 in the regular season.  The 1986-1987 squad that came within a shot of the National Title was 24-5 winning the Big East Season title.

The Pearl and Raf Addison lead the Orangemen to 23-4 in 1985-1986 earning the Big East Season Title.  In the first year of the Big East, Roosevelt Bouie and Louis Orr led Syracuse to a 24-2 record and the first Big East Season Title.  They were 25-3 in 1978-1979, and 25-3 in 1976-1977.

You would then have to go to the post-War team of 1945-1946 that went 23-3 and got the Orangemen their first post season action in NIT, to find a squad with an impressive in-season record.  Those Orangemen were led by Billy Gabor, Royce Newell and Ed Stickel.

The question becomes how important is the regular season accomplishments compared to the post season? I may find myself in the minority, but the regular season means a lot to me.  I find that I enjoy sports in the day-to-day; each game has meaning, each has potential moments that I may remember forever.  You play to win the games; accolades and titles are just outputs of winning. 

Regardless of how the season plays out, this is a successful year for me. I am enjoying the team, they are winning beyond my expectations. They have been ranked #1 or #2 for most of the year, and along the way gotten ‘some monkeys off their back’ with wins over Pitt and Louisville, and rivalry wins against the Hoyas and Huskies.  The Orange make the nightly highlights with every game they play.  Jim Boeheim is now the #3 winningest coach in NCAA history, and Kris Joseph is the winningest player in SU history.  They are positioning themselves for nice seeds in both post season tournaments. 

Assuming the Orange don’t lose five straight games, this is a very successful season.  I have no need to for them to reach the Final Four for this to be a success.  I want the Final Four, I dream for the Final Four, but there are a lot of hurdles in getting there. Many great teams from many schools have failed to get there.  The NCAA tournament is is a one-and-done deal, and the wrong match up, a cold shooting hand or a hot shooting opponent, a few bad calls or bounces, a key injury or two… all of these things come into play in the post season.  It does not disqualify how well the team did that year, nor how good they were.

Post season action is the gravy to the meal; it makes everything better and it is exciting as heck.  My thanks to Jim Boeheim and the Orange for a great season so far.

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