Monday, April 2, 2012

Best and Worst Moments from the Best and Worst Season - No. 3

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 #2
Best and Worst Moment #1

Best Moment #3
March 22, 2012 - Syracuse 64, Wisconsin 63

Expect to see this image on One Shining Moment tonight

As the season progressed and Syracuse established itself as one of the true elite teams in 2012, Orange fans circled the East region as their desired March destination. Selection Sunday was a cause for celebration, as the Orange earned the #1 seed, and alums from around the region would flock to Boston, just as they had in 2003 ...

Floyd Little was among the
Cuse Entourage in Boston
Fast forward to the second weekend in March, and despite missing el Bastardo Grande, Syracuse fans are still feeling good about breaking the Sweet 16 ceiling that hung over the program since 2003. The pregame parties around the TD Garden prove it. Syracuse sports celebrities make a appearances, Orange is everywhere and the intake of alcohol ensures a good crowd, despite the NCAA's arcane dry policy inside.

Then it was on to the basketball; well at least on Syracuse's side. There's no clear way to define Wisconsin's playing style other than maybe a lacrosse team unafraid of a stall warning. Methodical? Maybe. Boring? As all hell.

Yet here we are in the second half of a battle to the death. Because every time the shot clock ticks down, and you think SU has played perfect defense, the group of buzz-cut farmhands drills a 3-pointer. Again and again they fall - 14 in all.

And just like that, there's 19 seconds left and Wisconsin is only down one with the ball. It's terrifying. They couldn't miss all night. How could they miss here? This is the end of the season. But Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine force Jordan Taylor to chuck a deep and contested three, and just this once, it doesn't go in. The last second prayer by Josh Glasser hangs in the air for what seems like an hour, but finally falls harmlessly to the court. Jubilation in the stands and all over the court. Is it possible that we could see Jimmy B cutting down the nets once again?


Worst Moment #3
March 24, 2012 - Ohio St. 77, Syracuse 70

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But, alas, the Wisconsin game would be SU's final triumph. The hangover from the gritty win against Wisconsin helped us try to believe we could beat a very talented Ohio State team. The crowd was certainly in the Orange's favor, and Sullinger quickly ran into foul trouble, but it didn't matter in the end. The Buckeyes were too much, and the season had to come to an end.

I'll remember the missed layups and the costly turnovers at the end. I'll remember that neither Joseph nor Waiters could get in any rhythm offensively - probably because the referees were as bad as any in NCAA history, calling 49 fouls on both teams combined. I'll remember not taking advantage of Sullinger missing most of the first half with foul trouble, and Aaron Craft being the most annoying player I've seen since Greg Paulus.

But most of all, I'll remember Scoop Jardine in the picture above - inconsolable that his career was over and he'd fallen just short. A player who had endured nearly everything an SU athlete could over five years. From injuries, to NITs, to No. 1 seeds, to fan scrutiny and fan adoration, Jardine always gave the Syracuse fans everything he had.

It's times like these when you realize how much these athletes really do care. As rabid and crazed as we think we are as fans - and we are - none of us can relate to how Scoop and Kris Joseph felt that night.

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