During the four years I attended Syracuse (2009-2013), my freshman year was really the only year when no one knew if Syracuse basketball was going to be good. The team was coming off a Sweet 16 appearance, but had lost three key players (Jonny Flynn, Paul Harris, Eric Devendorf).
Well, everything turned out OK that year. A No. 1 seed and a Sweet 16 appearance was the end result. Wes Johnson was the wild card transfer. And he produced. I’m not sure if Syracuse has a wild card performer this year. And I’m not sure how successful the team will be.
Let’s go to recent history.
For the three years after my freshman year, I knew Syracuse was going to be good every year. I was never worried about us making the NCAA tournament (OK, maybe a little before the 2012-2013 season, but that turned out just fine).
After I graduated, the team was good again during the 2013-2014 season. And before last season, although there were mixed opinions, I thought the team would be OK. I didn’t think they’d make a tourney run, but I figured they’d most likely make the tournament. Well, SU wasn’t really “OK” last year. But last year is behind us.
This season, I really don’t know if we’ll make the tournament. People are predicting a good year. A bounce-back year. But there’s too much newness, a slate wiped half-clean (yes, we still have good players, coaching) for me to say I think this team will be really good.
That being said, I am a cautious fan. I set my expectations to realistic ones. That way, if Cuse blow by the expectations I’ve set for it, I’m happy. And if SU doesn’t meet the public’s higher expectations, I’m not disappointed.
Often in sports, our teams do well when we’re least expecting it, and disappoint when we expect the most out of them. Now, I don’t know if my mild expectations are because I am becoming more removed from my time on campus, or just a side effect of last year’s debacle. Most likely it’s the latter. Still, it would be nice to see this team get off to a hot start. SU teams usually do. But I’d like to see if we have any real standout players this year. Then, come early ACC games without Jim Boeheim, Cuse can surprise some.
I’ll have to see how the season plays out. I know SU is capable of going far. I’m just not sure it will. Before last season, we had been spoiled as of late. Last year removed some of the shine off the program. But Boeheim won’t be bothered by that. He’ll have the troops ready to go this year. The question, though, is just how far SU will go.