Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Best and Worst Moments from the Best and Worst Season - No. 1

Editor's note: The wounds are still fresh, but we're recapping one of the most memorable seasons in SU Basketball history. It was the best of times ... it was the worst of times. So in that spirit, we'll count down the Top 5 Best and Worst moments in the most up-and-down season any of us can ever remember.

More from the Best and Worst Moments Series
Best and Worst Moment #5
Best and Worst Moment #4
Best and Worst Moment #3
Best and Worst Moment #2

Worst Moment #1
November 17, 2011 - Bernie Fine accused of sexual abuse

SU left an empty seat next to Boeheim when Fine was on leave.
As details came out, Fine was fired, his seat filled on the bench

In the wake of the Penn State story, the talk between a few of our Syracuse friends was "what if this happened at Syracuse?" "How would we react?" We didn't ever think that our school would be the next story in the fallout of PSU. And yet, what seemed like only a few days later, the story broke.

It's no use going into all the details of the story. It was a horrible story, one that affected too many people and touched on the disturbing topic of child abuse. There were graphic details and reports, the firing of Bernie Fine, and calls for Boeheim to be next.Yet it was also an intriguing story of false accusations, strong reactions and heartfelt apologies. The biggest questions were of course about the actions of Fine and the horrible effects it may have had on his alleged victims, as well as the culture of supporting child abuse victims.

Yet there was also another question, albeit less important, that many Syracuse Basketball fans would ask. How will the team respond? Will they fall apart? At first they left a seat open for Fine. As he was fired and more law departments became involved in the investigation, that seat was filled. As rumors swirled and their head coach shouldered a ton of blame/pressure, the team somehow became more focused with the things they could control. 

On the court is what they knew to do best: play the 2-3, run, dunk and attack. And the team did just that, at a frenetic pace, to run off 20 straight wins to start the season. It was as if the more intense the pressure built from the outside, the more tight knit the Syracuse team became on the court. They were like a Greek phalanx, deflecting all shots or challenges and beating the shit out of everyone.

The Bernie Fine story isn't ultimately about basketball though. No matter what happened on the court, this was a dark day for the program, the university, and the Syracuse community. Perhaps the darkest in memory. In the most up and down season in history, this was without question the lowest moment. 

None. We went on hiatus for two weeks trying to figure if we could even run this blog anymore in the wake of such terrible news.

Best Moment #1
March 3, 2012 - Syracuse 58, Louisville 49

It was a proper sendoff for Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine

It was a coronation. A fitting moment of triumph on Senior Night for the most accomplished regular-season team in the history of Syracuse basketball. A perfect ending for the winningest player in SU history, Kris Joseph, and the often-polarizing, but nonetheless beloved, Scoop Jardine.

To fully appreciate this day, one must remember that in their careers in Orange - spanning four years prior to this one between the two - Jardine and Joseph had beaten Louisville exactly ZERO times. But on this Saturday afternoon, the senior duo completed a season sweep of the Cardinals.

The final score read 58-49, but anyone watching knew it wasn't even that close. The Orange took the lead on a Dion Waiters 3-pointer with just less than seven minutes left in the half, and never trailed again. The lead would grow to as much as 19, and the party was on in Syracuse.

Sure, Jardine didn't score a point, and Joseph struggled from the field. But that didn't matter. SU was undefeated at home for the first time since 2003. They completed a 30-1 season, the best in the program's illustrious history. Moved to 17-1 in the conference, among the greatest finishes of all time.

The Orange faithful had the chance to calmly send off two of its all-time greats in Jardine and Joseph in the final moments. Jim Boeheim even smiled - a little. It was a good day.

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