Thursday, March 9, 2006
If yesterday's nail-biter against eight-seeded Cincinnati wasn't enough to secure the Orange a spot in the NCAA tournament, today's squeaker in OT against #1 UConn was, pretty well locking up a place for SU among the 34 teams to be chosen by the committee this Sunday. Following Boeheim's post-game tongue-lashing of the local media coverage yesterday, the tiresome coverage that for weeks on end has in at least one case charactered senior point guard Gerry McNamara as over-rated, I admit that I was surprised. Not really necessary, I thought, to waste a precious press-conference f-word after a win, especially when referring to the Daily Orange, a student-run paper that has done much of late to gain a reputation for unscrupulous reporting. But whatever else Boeheim said--to the team most especially--worked (uh...did you hear him today acknowledge that both his wife and the chancellor are upset with him...?). The Orange have been sloppy at times (even during these wins...astoundingly sloppy in crucial moments), but today more than ever I thought we had a glimpse at how well coached this team is. What I'm getting at is that a team that goes from a 39-point loss at Depaul to a two-point overtime win against UConn in a single week is a team that gives a coach absolute fits. Who wouldn't be prone to letting slip with f&%^ coaching this team? No, of course, not that it's excusable to say such things, even when you're expressing contempt for those who've been publicly bagging on the senior who has tossed in two amazing shots to carry you into the semis of the Big East tourney.
I can't remember any sequence of games in March where a team so completely
doubted and so rickety at times came through with two bigger shots (by the same
guy, no less) than SU and Gerry McNamara yesterday and today. I should
admit that I was a skeptic in recent weeks, figuring, as I have all along, that
this group would be as good or as bad as its bigs because the guard play is
relatively reliable by comparison. I wasn't convinced of the toughness of
the frontcourt, and I'm still not sure they've got the depth to put together the
string of miracle wins needed to advance very far in the tournament of 64...er
65, considering the foul trouble Roberts and Watkins keep getting into.
This is only to say that the last two days of early-afternoon match-ups in the
Big East tournament have been overspilling with Marchy goodness, and I will be
watching again tomorrow for their contest against G'town
or Marquette, even if
it means listening to Bill Raftery's ridiculously over-inflected declaration of
"onions" every time somebody hits a big shot in the last five minutes. Or,
OniONS! (Because they make an eye tearful?) The rest of the tournament(s)
will have to feature a heavy load of intense scenarios to top the last two days of
Syracuse hoops craziness.