This weekend was supposed to be a Syracuse fan’s ultimate dream. Three games between the men’s basketball team and the football team would be held in New York City. The men’s basketball team was in the 2k Classic at MSG for two games, and the 12th ranked football team was in Yankee Stadium for a matchup with No. 3 Notre Dame. Well, things didn’t go quite as planned for the Orange.
The NYC weekend began Thursday night. The Orange were taking on their archrival UConn in the first round of the 2k Classic at Madison Square Garden. Syracuse came out flat to start and it didn’t get much better from there. The Huskies out-rebounded them 46-32, outshot them 49.1% to 39.4%, and shot 57.1% from three. Where it really mattered, on the big scoreboard, UConn had the 83-76 edge. There’s not much you can do when a team shoots 57% from deep, but the Orange’s problems were bigger than that. Oshae Brissett shot 3-15 for just 9 points from the floor. Jalen Carey was the lone bright spot for Syracuse, shooting 9-14 for 26 points on the night. With Frank Howard out due to injury, Tyus Battle has been assuming point guard duties. He led the Orange with 4 assists, but the team only had 10 total. It was an ugly night for the Orange, but they had a third-place game to look forward to on Friday.
If the Orange were flat on Thursday night, they were deflated on Friday. Oregon had been upset by Iowa the night before and would take on Syracuse for the third-place game. And, once again, the Orange decided to not show up. Oregon came out on top 85-60 in a game that Syracuse couldn’t do much of anything in. Brissett was once again miserable, shooting 2-12 from the field and 1-9 from deep. Oregon shot 50% as a team. The 2-3 zone is the Orange’s bread and butter, but UConn and Oregon were able to dissect it pretty easily this weekend. Bol Bol had a huge night for Oregon with 26 points and 9 rebounds. Syracuse looked pretty lost on both sides of the ball for the entirety of the tournament.
Well, at least we had Saturday to look forward to. The best game of the day in a weak college football slate. No. 3 Notre Dame against No. 12 Syracuse in a battle at Yankee Stadium. But it wasn’t much of a battle at all. The Irish destroyed the Orange to the tune of 36-3. Eric Dungey went down early with what looked to be a back injury, and freshman Tommy DeVito wasn’t quite ready for the big stage. Notre Dame had something to prove and they did just that on Saturday. The Irish went for 463 total yards to Syracuse’s 234. Losing Dungey didn’t help, but even with him in the Orange were looking at an uphill battle. Syracuse turned the ball over 3 times, which is uncharacteristic for them this season. Devito finished a measly 14-31 for 105 yards and 2 interceptions. The Orange defense looked helpless against a balanced Notre Dame attack led by Ian Book. The Irish’s 20-0 halftime lead didn’t go much of anywhere in the second half, and Syracuse had no answers. The Orange loss capped an 0-3 combined record for Syracuse this weekend in New York City.
So yeah, that was pretty depressing to write. Now let’s look with some optimism. For the basketball team, the season is young. Losses to a ranked team in Oregon and a likely ranked team in UConn aren’t the worst in the world. Both sides of the ball looked shaky but there is plenty of time to clean that up. Missing both Frank Howard and Howard Washington to injury is also a big loss. The Orange are a deep team, but the lack of a pure point guard is hurting them right now. They’re a talented team with a long season ahead.
As for the football team, they weren’t quite ready for the big stage. And that’s okay. If you told me the Orange would be 8-3 with their only losses to No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Notre Dame, and the ACC Coastal Divison Champs Pitt, I’d say sign me up. This weekend against rival Boston College will be one final regular season challenge. BC comes off of a loss to a Florida State team that has been playing much better as of late. A win puts the Orange at 9-3 and in place for a solid bowl game. Even a loss keeps them at 8-4 and in a good position. Syracuse wasn’t supposed to beat Notre Dame. Not quite yet. But the future is oh so bright. We’ve been spoiled as Cuse fans this year. The football team at No. 12 in the nation with the basketball team at No. 15. This weekend was just a way of keeping us in check.