Regarding the Colgate and Cornell games this week, it’s fashionable to stress how little we can learn from these games and to warn that victories mean nothing. I understand the sentiment behind that theory, and I agree with it in principle. But I think it’s important to have some perspective in terms of how much worse things could be, and realize that there may be some legitimate bright spots. For instance, in the past 10 or 15 years, there have been at least a hand full of seasons wherein SU struggled to beat the likes of Colgate and Cornell by more than 10-15 points. Last year, we were losing to Cornell late in the second half. Granted, we’ve always won versus those types of teams, and we always know we’re going to win even when it’s annoyingly close, but we’ve had trouble delivering blowouts more than a few times. Now the kicker: remember that most of those SU teams that struggled to annihilate the Red Raiders or the Big Red–or their ilk–have still made the tournament (last year notwithstanding).
My point then, for this years team, is that we should take some consolation in the fact that we’re crushing these creampuffs with absolute ease. Don’t be fooled by tonight’s 16 point margin, it was only “close” because our guys were utterly bored out there. Donte may have played his worst game of the year, but he was barely paying attention, and I sympathized with him. He was stuck guarding some Ivy League chump 7 inches shorter than him for most of the game, and he looked like he wondered why this game was even being played. They could have won by 40 if not for the lackadaisical effort to get back on defense in the second half, and the fact that Jimmy is still mixing and matching on offense to find suitable combinations with the new depth chart. Boeheim’s experimental substitution patterns inhibited any flow from developing in the second half, which bogged down some of the scoring. Plus, pulling away was so easy when they actually tried early in the game that the kids fell into the trap of not always bothering to execute later on. Jonny Flynn could have gotten 40 in this game if he wanted it, but it wasn’t necessary. My point is, they blew Cornell out of the water when the game was interesting, and let their feet off the accelerator when they realized this matchup was a meaningless replay of the Colgate game. That’s my in-person 13th row body-language oriented psychological analysis.
But back to my original point: Colgate and Cornell are both expected to be “good” this year, in terms of their own conferences, so the fact that we crushed them is a good sign given that previous “good” cupcakes from upstate NY have given previous weak SU teams some problems. This suggests this current incarnation is not truly one of the weaker SU teams, at least as compared to last season. Am I stretching here? Perhaps. Perhaps previous SU teams let Cornell and Colgate hang around because SU had veterans who couldn’t get excited for these games; perhaps we only ran them out of the building this year because we have a young team with lots to prove. But to my untrained eye guys like Flynn, Greene, and Onuaku exhibited a level of superiority to suggest these games were practically beneath them. It was all quite easy. That’s a good sign to me.
I just went to great lengths to prove that although this SU team might not be one of our better squads, we don’t yet have reason to believe they’re one of the worst squads (AKA, one of the 3 or 4 Jimmy teams that have missed the Tourney). That’s a lot of typing for such a minor and nuanced point, but hey, that’s what blogging is for.