Despite post-season ban, Syracuse has something left to play for

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Syracuse still has to finish out the regular season

Okay. Syracuse has self-imposed a postseason ban for themselves. No NCAAs, NIT, ACC tourney.

Who knows what the fate of this year’s team would have been. But this decision shouldn’t make the players take their feet off the gas.

After Syracuse’s most recent close call, a 72-70 win against Virginia Tech on Tuesday, ‘Cuse alum and ESPN’s Mike Tirico tweeted this: “@miketirico: Really appreciate this @Cuse_MBB team. They are giving us all they have every game.”

Can’t argue there. This team has fight in it. But I wonder, did teams of the past few years have fight in them too? Maybe it just wasn’t noticeable and wasn’t as appreciated because they were better and won by more.

Regardless, this team won’t go out easy. Every game will be a battle. And while I still don’t have the highest of expectations for this squad, they’re trying. And the effort paid off against Virginia Tech.

» Related: Syracuse uses late comeback to top Va. Tech

It’s not pretty, and it’s not for the faint of heart. But wins are happening. Losses too, as expected with a team that’s lost so much talent these last few years.

Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije are growing on me. Role players in the past, this trio has been forced into being the stars of this SU squad. And while this season certainly has fewer ups and more downs thus far than in past years, these guys have made the team respectable, and enjoyable to watch.

Based on graduation year, this team only loses Christmas after this season. Lots of experience coming back next year. And with that, a chance to bounce back and make the postseason.

But for this season, I’m not as discouraged as I thought I’d be at this point in the year. Right now, we know this team probably needs to fight tooth and nail to hang with the big boys, and that’s OK. It will be interesting to see how SU fares against the top dogs of the conference coming up. Hopefully much has been learned since last week’s loss to UNC.

This team will fight. Sure, it’ll take some getting used to the Orange not stockpiling the wins. But it feels good knowing there’s always a chance of a win. And while that may sound horrid compared to past seasons, I’m fine with SU’s performance this year.

This year’s squad gives off the vibe of having something to prove. I like it. Learn from the losses (and the wins) and go out and play the best basketball for 40 minutes. Or at least try. Because effort is half the battle.

Which means SU’s halfway there. Seeing how the other half plays out will be the fun part as ACC play ramps up. Even without the prospect of playing for the NCAA tourney, I’m ready to see what this team is made of.

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Rachel Marcus

About Rachel Marcus

Rachel is currently a Digital Production Assistant at ESPN. She has previously interned at SportsNet New York and has contributed to Dime Magazine and covered beats ranging from Big East basketball to men’s soccer for The Daily Orange. She is originally from Maryland. Follow her on Twitter @rachelnmarcus.
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