In their first league game in their new conference, the Syracuse Orange persevered through a hideous slog of a game to emerge victorious. Fans knew there would be an adjustment period as the usually high-flying Orange got dragged into the morass that is Big Ten basketball, but I don’t know if any of us was quite prepared for Saturday’s unsightly mess. The traditional features of midwestern “basketball” were all on full display: an opponent holding the ball for 30 seconds on nearly every possession; rims that suddenly seem to be made of granite; some sort of magical fairy dust that allows the opposing defenders to continuously grab and poke yet almost never get called for fouls. Legends have long been told of these sorts of games, though I never quite believed the rumors of final scores in the 40s until today. It was as if the living ghost of Bo Ryan suddenly grabbed a clipboard on the opposing sideline.
It makes me wish that Syracuse, when all the conference realignment happened a couple years back, decided to join the ACC, where (for all their intrinsic godlessness) they do decent and proper things, like scoring points. Instead we are stuck in the fast-break-forsaken swamp that is the Big Ten. At least, that’s what appears to have happened. I can’t come up with any other explanation for what I just witnessed.
Being in a new conference stinks.
The good news is that they won the game, displaying grit, fortitude, heart, and any number of other slog-worthy adjectives. Several guys each made a shot or two, which was enough to pull away at the end, as Miami’s shrewd strategy of continually making 28-foot three-pointers ultimately proved untenable. They are approximately the eighth team to try that strategy against Syracuse this year, and so far all have failed. Evidently it’s tough to keep up that pace for an entire game. One day it may work for someone, though. I just hope it’s not in the first round of the NCAAs.