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Season Ending Loss

Season Ends In Dissapointment,
Cuse Get Bounced In Sweet 16

After a flat 40 minutes of basketball inside the FedEx Forum, and an embarrassing loss at the hands of Oklahoma, the season was over and the reflection period immediately began. Problem was, I didn’t know what to feel. Was it anger that the Orange came out with such little bounce in their step? Was it sadness that my dreams of Syracuse playing for another National Championship were crushed? Was it satisfaction that our group of players came together at seasons end and gave us hope? Or was it a combination of all those questions?

To be honest, I’m still not sure. SHOCK is probably the best adjective to describe my current mindset. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that this team would give up and stop fighting. But in my mind, that’s exactly what happened. With Jonny Flynn hurt from a first half head on collision with Blake Griffin, and the Cuse down 13 at the break, the Orange started the second half with 3 straight turnovers. Barely 2 minutes into the second half, the Sooners lead had catapulted to 20. It was at that point where it felt like the team had lost all confidence. It showed in their effort, it showed in their body language, but most importantly it was showing on the scoreboard. A late run led by a gutty Flynn cut the lead to 14, but it never felt like we had the energy to make a true push. Our shooters weren’t even close all night, our big guys got manhandled by the Griffin brothers, and Tony Crocker broke out of a slump to career it with 28 points on 6-11 from deep. That all adds up to a blowout folks, and that’s exactly what we got.

Now that were done reminiscing on a night I’d rather forget, let’s talk about the future of Syracuse Basketball. Next season’s optimism will likely depend on what happens with our upperclassmen. Will Jonny stay true to his word and come back for his Junior year? Will Eric be back as a 5th year senior? Will Paul Harris pursue opportunities in Europe to make a better life for his family? The truth is noone knows. There has been a lot of speculation and insinuations but were going to have to let it play out to find out for sure. Jonny has been steadfast in his commitment to the program, but so was Donte Greene last season, and we all know how that turned out.

A few things for next year aren’t so up in the air. Andy Rautins, and Arinze Onuaku will be back for their Senior years. If they can improve as much this summer as they did last summer, look out. Same can be said about Rick Jackson, who’s improvement from game to game was remarkable. The guy becomes a better player every possession not every week. We will also have Scoop Jardine back from injury to provide depth behind Jonny at the point. Having a backup point guard who has as much game experience as Scoop is certainly a great luxury, a luxury we could have used last night. If Jonny does unexpectedly turn pro, Scoop is more than capable of being our floor general on a full time basis. We also have Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson, who sat out the season do to NCAA rules that state, a player must sit out a full academic year when transferring to another school. It’s too bad we couldn’t use him all year, cause Wes looked serious in practices. This guy was dominant in his freshman season in the Big Twelve, averaging nearly 13 and 9. Look for him to be a perfect fit in both our offense and our defense. He is long and wiry and should be perfect on the back end of our zone. Offensively, the kid can shoot the eyes out of it (a bit in the mold of Donte Greene) but he can also do some damage around the rim (not so much like Donte). I’m very excited about what he can bring to our team, and so are his coaches and teammates. As for the incoming freshman, we do have some dynamic talent coming next season. The Cuse bring in NY State player of the year, Brandon Triche, who played his high school ball locally at nearby Jamesville-Dewitt. How much court time he gets will depend on the decisions of Jonny and Eric. Also coming to town is scout.com’s #9 Center in the class, DeShonte Riley. Riley is a great shot blocker and area rebounder and should provide depth at center behind Arinze and Ricky.

The future looks bright for next years group regardless of everyone’s decisions. If Jonny, Eric, and Paul do comeback, we should have a team ranked in the Top-5 Nationally when the pre-season polls come out in October. It’s a tough feeling right now, knowing you won’t get to see the Cuse suit up again until November, but it’s a tough feeling every year at this time (god I miss Melo).

Before I sign off, I’d like to give a special thanks and congratulations to Kristof Ongenaet. The kid worked harder on the court than anyone I can remember in a long time and was a pleasure to cheer for. He played through pain, was a good teammate and a great ambassador to both the basketball team and University. I wish Kristof nothing but the best in his life outside of Syracuse.

Nolan Shulman
nolan@flagrantfouls.com

Leave a comment about your favorite Syracuse basketball memory from this season.

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Posted in Syracuse Orange 2 days, 18 hours ago at 7:22 AM.

1 comment

One Reply

  1. I’ll go first….Jonny’s dunk on Mike Rosario !!! That was rediculous.


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