As March comes into view and the end of snow piles outside the Carrier Dome is within sight, it is time for fans of the Syracuse Orange to gauge that inner feeling. Is this a year where Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim's squad can vault us into spring time with a string of postseason victories? The first half of play tonight against Providence had the Dome faithful dreaming of a Final Four. A raise the roof type win over Georgetown on Saturday thoughts of playing on a Monday of April will begin.
The talent level on the court has been superb since the state of the art Melo Center was built in the years following the 2003 national title. However, an Arinze Onuaku knee injury and a Fab Melo academic issue derailed teams that seemed destined for success. This year James Southerland's suspension and Dejuan Coleman's minor knee surgery created a low point in Big East conference play. Yet, Southerland is back. That is critical. Coleman's return is a week or better away, but will be also welcome.
One way to rate potential Final Four units for the Orange - how many future NBA players are on the floor. In 1987, it was Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly and Sherman Douglass. In 1996, John Wallace carried his teammates. In 2003, Carmelo Anthony and Hakim Warrick are still NBA pros and Gerry McNamara was G-Mac.
This year there's Michael Carter-Williams and CJ Fair. There's Brandon Triche and Jerami Grant. They could all be drafted when their day comes. Who knows maybe Dejuan Coleman or Rakeem Christmas will grow into their former All-American status. That is a talented group.
This team is quick and long. When they're on, they can shoot. When inspired they play terrific defense. Then can definitely run. They are now 22 -4 on the season. They have five more in the regular season. They will win four, lose one. They have the Big East tournament. They will win two and lose the championship. They then turn to the NCAA's. They will win four and lose one. Finishing in the Final Four, but not reaching the championship game. The season record would finish at 32 -7.
That's my call on February 20th. This is the time of year to assess your gut feeling of where our beloved Orange will finish.Any questions or comment please forward them to mattsmemo@CNYcentral.com. I may even use some of your thoughts on NBC 3 News at 5:00, the 10:00 News on CW6 or on CNYcentral.com.
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