Saturday, March 16, 2013
A Farewell with Redemption
The Big East Tournament has turned into a fond farewell for the Syracuse players and the fans. The magic and aura of the madness in Madison Square Garden will dearly be missed, something we all are becoming more aware of each and every game Syracuse advances. Tonight it will end.
Fortunately for the Orange, the Tournament is going to bring a positive resolution for many involved. The backdrop of the poor performance by the Orange over the past few weeks, only heightens what we can observe today.
First, congratulations to Trevor Cooney. We have been hearing about how well he plays in practice, but had yet seen that play in Big East action. Last night, was his coming out party with 10 points, including a couple of threes. More impressive was his hustle, solid defense, and rebounding. He could not have chosen a better stage.
Baye Keita did his Gerry McNamara impression, and calmly drained seven out of seven free throws. He did a yeoman’s job of handling Georgetown’s big men, and had a team high 13 points.
James Southerland… what a way to shake off some shooting rust. He has tied the Big East Tournament three point shooting record with his 16 treys, and he still has one game left to play. I am glad to see the senior get some glory in MSG; it allows us to forget his poor shooting down the stretch of the season.
And it was great to see Brandon Triche show some emotion, and get his game back on track. The senior has meant a lot to the Orange over four years, and it was so disappointing to see his season fall apart over the last few weeks. He has had the opportunity to make some treys in the tournament, and has made some excellent decisions in driving to the hoop. That is the type of play that Triche has shown in the past when he leads this team; it fuels the Orange offense and allows it to fire on all cylinders.
C.J. Fair had a poor game shooting and uncharacteristically made some poor decisions, something he would surely like to forget. But his emphatic dunk in overtime that gave Syracuse the four point margin should erase all memories of that. That dunk will be remembered as one of the greatest in SU history.
It is tough leaving the Big East, and it was very disappointing to close out the regular season playing poorly. Losing to Georgetown in a non-competitive situation in the Dome really hurt. We have all become accustomed to fierce games between the two teams, and that loss was anti-climatic.
Last night’s game erases that memory. A 58-53 overtime win just added to the legacy of the series. It is unfortunate it is the last meaningful game between the two schools. Even if the Orange had lost last night, it would have been a fitting conclusion… a hard fought physical games, and something to appreciate. The fact that Syracuse won makes it far sweeter.
Finally, the man who is really getting his due is coach Jim Boeheim. I hope no one doubts how much the Big East Conference has meant to Boeheim. He has stated that the past two years, but people may just take it for granted. Having the opportunity to play Georgetown last night was extra special for him; you could tell by his emotions down the stretch and post game. Typically the only emotions you will see from Boeheim in a game are anger and stoicism. Last night you could see that Boeheim really wanted to win the game; it was very special for him. He was displaying excitement about the players positive scoring in the last few minutes of the game and in overtime. His moist eyes in the post game interviews revealed any more. The Georgetown series is now officially over.
I’ve been blessed to be old enough to be able to watch all the Big East Tournaments since inception. This is meaningful to me. Just think about how meaningful it is to Jim Boeheim? He lives and breaths college basketball, and loves the Big East. This isn’t just a hobby for him; it has been an integral part of his life, and he knows it is going away forever. It has to make him feel very happy knowing that his team put on a good show during their last Big East Tournament.
I think that is all he wanted from this week. And I think Syracuse fans would all agree.