The journey of writing a column is an interesting one, to say the least. Take this one, for example. I sat down wanting to write about this year’s team looking mediocre, at best, as it put up some fairly humdrum numbers against some pedestrian competition.
I wanted to parlay that into a column discussing why lackluster performances in these early games can be an indicator of season-long success, or lack thereof. Basically I wanted to spell doom for the 2016-2016 Syracuse Orange.
Only one problem, though: the facts tell a different story.
The 23 combined points that this year’s team has outscored its opponents by in the first two games is the 4th lowest total in the past 15 years. The average combined margin of victory over that time span is 38.1 points per game. Take out the four lowest totals and the average is 48 points per game. Syracuse is expected to dominate these games. Anything less than blow outs is cause for panic right?
Not exactly. The 2002-03 team outscored its opponents by a total of 8 points through its first two games, including a close loss on opening night to Memphis. That Syracuse team, as you may have heard, finished 30-5 and won the National Championship.
The following year, thanks to a loss to Charlotte, the Cuse had a +1 scoring advantage over its first two foes. That team went to the Sweet Sixteen.
The third lowest total of 11 points, in 2007-08, was the precursor of a NIT bound team.
A championship, a sweet sixteen, and an NIT bid. Talk about different ends of the spectrum.
The beauty of a season is that it takes time to unfold. Thus far Michael Gbinije has shown he’s ready to lead, Tyler Lydon has emerged as a tremendous fan-favorite and has proven he’s ready to be a regular contributor, and Dajuan Coleman is still a giant question mark. We still have so much more to learn, click here to find out more.
It’s early. We can still dream big and have fun watching the team take shape. We can’t know where this squad is headed yet, but that’s why November and December are so much fun.
As I found out first hand, trying to make anything more out of these games is a futile exercise in negativity (in my case) or hyperbole. They are tune-up games. Chances to improve and find a groove. A time for players and fans alike to get know the team- strengths and weaknesses- without the consequences of league or tournament play.
January brings ACC play, and with it either harsh realities or unbridled optimism. But for now, anything is truly possible.
I’m going to try to enjoy it while I can.