Earlier this week, Syracuse announced a four-year home-and-home series against the soon-to-be fromer conference rival St. John’s Red Storm, an announcement at which we can all direct a sincere…
As an Orange fan, this series leaves a lot to be desired. First and foremost, St. John’s is not the team that we were longing for in the “Syracuse retains an old Big East rival” scenario.
You’d be hard-pressed to even fit the Johnnies into the “rival” bucket. Over the last five years, the Orange have a 5-0 record against the Red Storm, with an average margin of victory of 17 points. Is this the memory that you’d want to take away from all the years of banging with the Big East?
If there were one team for Syracuse to keep in touch with after our move to the ACC, anyone could agree that it should be Georgetown. We could revisit the history of the rivalry, but the tales of John Thompson II and his bands of merry big men are low hanging fruit.
The Hoyas of today are a force with which to be reckoned. JT3 has been successful in his own way, having already cemented a reputation for producing multi-talented big men that can distribute as well as they can dunk. This is a program with an infrastructure that won’t be prone to the recent ups and downs that have plagued the boys from Queens, and will consistently be as much of a boost to the RPI as it will be a rivalry throwback.
Opponent selection notwithstanding, the St. John’s home-and-”home” series is begging for the same old criticism. I understand: Syracuse wants to keep playing in Madison Square Garden. As an Orange alum who currently lives in the Five Boroughs, I understand the appeal. There tons of us here, and we’ll easily turn this “away” game on it’s head.
But does it get any more transparent? We’re talking about an elite program that’s about to jump ship from what is currently the best conference in college basketball (I don’t care about seasonal aberrations, the Big Ten has been consistently soul-suckingly boring until this year), and the only thing they’re taking with them is a series against a team that’s been little more than a bottom feeder for years, but happens to play the occasional home gain in the Mecca of Basketball.
If we really need to keep the spirit alive at MSG, why not UConn? Husky fans show up at The Garden, so a game against them in Manhattan would be a true neutral-site affair. Syracuse would continue to rake in the cash that comes with playing in NYC without suffering competitively from games against a consistently inferior opponent.
In the end, I have to admit that this is mostly about me not being happy about the Orange leaving the Big East. I’ve enjoyed living at the top of the baskeball conference heap, and bashing the ACC for soft play has been no small part of that. I appreciate the financial implications of college football, and realize it’s better to eat than be eaten, but if there’s game per year that is supposed to bring back the glory of the last 30+ years, I’d rather it not be an annual pasting of a bygone power in our home away from home.