If you are a Syracuse fan, watching the Syracuse Maine basketball game last night was hard. (Although I admit it might have been harder if you were a Maine fan) But still watching the Orange looked faultless during a long stretch of the first half had to get you mind racing.
Because after all the Orange was absolutely phenomenal in the first half. And I need no reminder it was against Maine. But the Orange were defending, fast breaking, shooting and passing all at a level it is hard to remember any Orange team ever eclipsing. And when you combine it all together and that level of play comes in all the areas at the same time, it is hard to watch. Hard to watch and remember its just Maine. And hard to watch and remember its just December.
My wife is older than me. Older than me by essentially the length of a college basketball season. I like to tell her she is much older than me. That the time between our birthdays is a long long time. So as we celebrated her birthday last night - and Syracuse ran circles (or any other shape of their desire) around the Maine Black Bears, I wished it was my birthday in March. Wished that Syracuse was playing at this level then. And certainly they might be. But as I remind my wife all the time, there is a lot of time between December and March.
Truly, Syracuse is playing at a level where if the tournament started on Thursday, they'd enter as one of the favorites - if not the favorite. When March really gets here, the situation might be the same. This team is strong on the inside, shoots well from distance, shares the basketball, plays a great team defense and has plenty of options. The Orange has also shown that it has one or two players who can be counted on to be the goto guy in a close game at the end.
So as I watched that game last night, it was hard for my mind not to drift. Not to wish that it was March. Not to be optimistic and think that it didn't matter when March came. And maybe it won't. But the one thing I know for sure is this Syracuse team is exciting to watch. And they are real good.
We'll get the chance to see them against another strong team on Thursday when they play in Tampa against Florida. That will be the last real test until the Big East schedule begins at the end of the month. Even the non-conference showdown with Memphis isn't until January.
My philosophy on college basketball when it concurs the Orange is to simply be worried only about March. That wins or losses in November and December in particular don't matter. That it all comes down to trying to win six straight games after the season. It's one of the ways that I shrug off January road losses to middle of the road Big East teams. So if I'm going to follow that belief this year, than I have to admit that these wins, however impressive they are, don't mean anything.
But that is hard - so very hard.