MBB : Look both ways: Season ends without goals accomplished, but SU’s future looks bright

first_imgLooking backContaining supreme highs and incredibly deflating lows, the 2010-11 season was tumultuous for the Orange. It began with an 18-0 start — the second-best start in Jim Boeheim’s 35 years.But after catapulting to No. 3 in the national rankings, the freefall began. A four-game losing streak, one short of the worst in the Boeheim era, shook the team in the middle of the Big East season.Months after Boeheim had called his team the most overrated squad he has ever had, huge deficiencies were exploited.The streak was snapped with two wins over Connecticut and South Florida, but then two more losses followed. The team sat at 20-6, 7-6 Big East in mid-February.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut suddenly, the swagger returned in the form of a five-game winning streak to finish the regular season. It was capped by a 48-point Senior Day win over DePaul, the greatest margin of victory in Big East history.Heading into postseason play, confidence was high again.The Orange made the Big East tournament as a No. 4 seed, one spot from where SU was pegged preseason. The Orange made the NCAA Tournament as a three seed, about where SU was pegged throughout the season by bracketologists.But dig deeper and the season was anything but steady. The Jekyl and Hyde act from the team as a whole spoke to that. One game, Scoop Jardine was saving the Orange and sending a Big East tournament semifinal into overtime. The next, he was shooting the Orange out of that game as well as the NCAA Tournament’s third round.Kris Joseph could go for 21 points while willing SU to an overtime win over Rutgers. But the next game, he was not demanding the basketball in the final seconds against Marquette on a play designed for him.One game, Fab Melo would show up. The next, he wouldn’t. All the freshmen took turns playing well and then disappearing.When taking into account preseason expectations, only one player met those expectations: Rick Jackson.Syracuse seemed to surf the unsteady season fine. But in retrospect, there was little progression with regard to expecting steady contributions from anyone but Jackson. And it all melded into the perfect storm against Marquette.The final minute against the Golden Eagles said it all. There was a disconnect on an inbounds play designed for Joseph, as the ball was passed to Jardine.There seemed to be a disconnect with regard to roles and expectations for SU’s players all season. And even if the numbers on the surface look fine, how SU departed spoke to the rockiness of the season overall.Looking aheadThrough a cloud of disappointment following Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament loss to Marquette, Brandon Triche was able to see a silver lining. Yes, SU’s senior leader, Rick Jackson, will be gone. But to Triche, the pieces are in place for the Orange to perhaps be even better next year.Despite the bitter feeling in the locker room Sunday, Triche was able to envision what could be as the team moves forward.‘We should have a lot of talent next year,’ Triche said. ‘We’ll have a lot of experience and depth coming back. We should get back to the Tournament and do a little better.’There’s good reason for Triche’s optimism, too. Other than Jackson — who will undoubtedly be missed — the Orange should have everybody else returning. While SU’s four freshmen went through growing pains this season, they all developed individually by getting in-game experience. This offseason should develop them even more, too.So, in addition to depth, the experience should be there to compete at a high level.Jim Boeheim will likely be fortunate enough to have a problem most coaches envy. He’ll have enough depth that will allow him to sprinkle in a trio of freshmen. That includes Rakeem Christmas and Michael Carter-Williams, who were selected as McDonald’s All-Americans, and Trevor Cooney, rated the No. 17 shooting guard in the Class of 2011 by Scout.com. With the loaded roster Boeheim has coming back, that will be no small task.In addition, Boeheim will likely have 7-foot center DaShonte Riley back after he took a medical redshirt this season due to a foot injury.‘We’ve got a lot of experience coming back,’ said Kris Joseph, who said Sunday he plans to return for his senior season. ‘The freshmen who played are going to come back and help us. We’ve got a freshman class that’s unbelievable, and they’re going to be able to come in and contribute. So I’m looking forward to it.’But talent doesn’t necessarily translate to a deep NCAA Tournament run. SU had talented rosters each of the past three seasons, yet never advanced further than the Sweet 16.Perhaps that will add fuel to the fire. Triche said SU has had too much talent to be content with winning a mere game or two before bowing out. With an experienced core, a star-studded recruiting class and a Hall of Fame coach, the hype will begin not too far after this season ends.‘It’s tough because we thought we could’ve done better this season,’ Triche said. ‘Now all I want to do is fast forward to next season.’[email protected]@syr.edu Comments Published on March 23, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*