The early exit still stings.
Syracuse’s loss to Marquette in the third round of the NCAA tournament marked the second straight year the Orange lost in its white uniforms. But, that isn’t to say that the season didn’t have its moments.
There was the Orange taking New York City — again. Syracuse hoisted the Legends Classic Throphy down in Atlantic City. And who can forget when Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim won his 850th career game?
With that in mind, here are some of the key games from the season:
November 14, 2010: Canisius vs. Syracuse
It didn’t take long for Boeheim to become critical of his then-10th ranked Orange. Following his team’s 86-67 victory against Canisius, Boeheim had this to say about his team: “Right now, we’re the most overrated team that I’ve ever had. Right now. And I’m a little shocked that everybody’s bought into this whole thing. We’ve got a long ways to go. We are not a good basketball team.” Keep in mind at that point, Syracuse had won its opening two games by an average margin of 20.5 points a game.
December 7, 2010: Michigan State vs. Syracuse
But Boeheim’s prophecy turned out to be right. Syracuse struggled to win the Legends Classic, edging Michigan and Georgia Tech by a combined seven points. This was shortly after the Orange squeaked past William and Mary, 63-60 at the Dome. But all of those fears were temporarily put aside when the Orange dropped then-No. 8 Michigan State, 72-58, at the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden. Even Boeheim was a little easier on his team in the post game press conference: “Michigan State is going to be there in the end, so this is a really good win for us.”
January 1, 2011: Notre Dame vs. Syracuse
Hindsight means a lot. When Syracuse defeated then-No. 15 Notre Dame, 70-58, it wasn’t an upset. The Orange took care of business by limiting the Irish to 33.3 percent shooting from downtown, while shooting 49.1 percent from the field. Little did anyone know, Notre Dame would become one of the elite teams in the Big East before gaining a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. In hindsight, it was one of the biggest wins of Syracuse’s season.
January 17, 2011: Syracuse v. Pittsburgh
The Orange raced out to a perfect 18-0 season, and peaked at No. 3 when it headed into Pittsburgh to face the Panthers. The Orange was without its leading scorer, Kris Joseph, and it showed in the opening minutes of the game, when it fell behind 19-0 en route to a 74-66 loss. It was the first of four straight losses for the Orange, the first time the team had lost that many consecutive games since the 2005-06 season.
February 2, 2011: Syracuse v. Connecticut
Again, hindsight is everything. With the way Kemba Walker has captured the hearts of college basketball fans through his performance in the Big East and NCAA tournament, it makes Syracuse’s 66-58 win at Hartford, Conn. that much more impressive. Walker was held to just eight points on 3-for-14 shooting that night as the Orange avoided its first five-game losing streak under the Boeheim era. If the Notre Dame win wasn’t the biggest win of the season in retrospect, then this win was — especially if the Huskies go on to win the National Championship.
The win also coincided with rumors that Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters and James Southerland were being investigated for point shaving. Andy Adamson, a YNN reporter in Rochester, posted it to his Twitter and Facebook page, which then became the subjects of articles on The Bleacher Report and Covers.com. Joseph talked about it during post game interviews: “When you start talking about specific players and making up lies, not even now, but for the long run, that can hurt your career.”
February 14, 2011: West Virginia v. Syracuse
Syracuse’s 63-52 win over the Mountaineers wasn’t really the reason why this game was significant. It was more the blow-up that occurred afterward that made it newsworthy. Boeheim went on a rant about the local media, specifically targeting Donna Ditota and Mike Waters of the Post-Standard. Boeheim seemed to take exception with Ditota’s article — and others like it — highlighting how Louisville coach Rick Pitino had beat Boeheim in six (now seven) straight games after a 73-69 loss on Feb. 12. His rant was national news, and was picked up by USA Today, and Yahoo! Sports, among other national news organizations. It put a damper on and otherwise momentus occasion for Boeheim. The win was the 850th of his illustrious Hall of Fame career.
March 10, 2011: St. John’s v. Syracuse
Coach Steve Lavin led a resurgence of St. John’s this season, leading the school back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade. But SU, as it had done on Jan. 12 at Madison Square Garden, showed St. John’s this city still was Orange with a 79-73 win in the Big East quarterfinals. St. John’s only lost twice at the World’s Most Famous Arena this season, and both times it was to Syracuse.