How Syracuse basketball fans spend their summer says a lot

Thomas Bryant is still considering Syracuse

July can be a rough time for Syracuse basketball fans. The NBA draft is over, and there’s no more guessing where our favorite former Orangemen will play professionally. Midnight Madness is still months away, and the pace of news on returning players’ summer workouts is maddeningly slow.

What’s an Orange fan to do? Besides get excited for the upcoming football season, there are two options. The one you prefer says a lot about you as a fan.

The first is to transfer your fandom of the new teams of former Orange players. Have you been watching a lot of sloppy 76ers Summer League games? Did you start pondering a vacation in Turkey when you heard Paul Harris had signed with Royal Hali Gaziantep? If so, you fall into this camp.

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The second is to scrutinize the every move of Syracuse recruiting targets, just toeing the line of where it’s creepy. Did it make your day to find out that Thomas Bryant has set up an official visit to SU? Did you stay up late watching Sedee Keita highlight videos when you found out that Syracuse had offered a scholarship to the 2016 power forward? If so, you belong in this category.

Have you been following Thomas Bryant news?

What does this say about you as a Syracuse fan? If you fall into the first camp, you are a traditionalist. You respect the past and honor those who have gotten you where you are today. If you’re a parent, most of your stories begin, “ Well, back in my day…”

If you fall into the second camp, you are a dreamer. An eternal optimist, you believe the best things have yet to come. You’re more concerned with tomorrow than today. You would make a great entrepreneur, even if you often fail to appreciate what’s in front of your nose.

Personally, I fall into the recruiting addict group. I feel the need to watch highlight videos of every high school player on Syracuse’s radar, even if many of them will never come to the Hill. When they finally commit, it’s a satisfying feeling. I can’t wait to see Malachi Richardson’s silky smooth jumper in an Orange uniform or Moustapha Diagne bully his way into the paint at the Dome.

This approach can go wrong in two ways, however. When Syracuse fans become too invested in a recruit, they take it personally when the high school kid chooses to attend a different school. Remember Tobias Harris?

Secondly, focusing too much on future Orangemen can make you overlook the players already on the team. Yes, Derrick Jones is a 5-star prospect and could make an exciting addition in 2015. But Rakeem Christmas was also once a 5-star prospect and is poised to have his best year in an SU uniform. Let’s not write off the 2014 season while we wait for the 2015 class to arrive.

This type of fan has a tendency to overestimate the impact of recruits. Top-20 recruits are always program changers except when they’re not. It would be a disappointment if Bryant doesn’t ultimately commit to SU, but the same could have been said about DaJuan Coleman in 2012. A combination of injuries and over-hype have thus far prevented Coleman from becoming the star that his top-20 high school rating would have suggested.

With all of these pitfalls, perhaps it’s better to belong to the first camp. Who doesn’t want to see CJ Fair make the Mavericks’ roster? Who isn’t giddy to hear that Eric Devendorf is lighting up another foreign league?

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We root for these players because they happened to go to the school where our loyalty lies, and we hope they do us proud. There’s also the selfish angle that alumni success tends to beget more success.

Yet still, there is something in most of us that yearns for the next big thing. I can’t blame you if you’re counting down the days to the 2015 season, even if the 2014 Orange will likely
surprise a lot of people.

In the end, just like a team, we need balance and a go-to option.

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About Jeff Irvine 107 Articles
Jeff has covered Massachusetts Minutemen basketball for The Maroon and White and The Daily Hampshire Gazette. He has also written for The Daily Orange. Jeff is an Amherst, Massachusetts native, and graduated from Syracuse University in 2006. Follow him on Twitter @jeffreyirvine.