With Legends Classic title, Orange finally beginning to live up to early hype

first_img Published on November 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm Comments Jim Boeheim wanted to answer one last question. There were things left unsaid.Seated at the Boardwalk Hall podium, he scanned the assembled press in Atlantic City, N.J., for any further inquiries about his team’s Legends Classic championship. He would make sure everything was cleared up, even if he and the press were told — urged — by a tournament employee that the press conference was over.With the one final question, he cleared the air about Syracuse’s performance through six games. He attempted to do it after he was asked about his comments after Syracuse’s second game, when he called the Orange ‘overrated.’ Once more he cleared the air about what he meant then and where he feels the team is now.‘I said that (we were overrated) four games ago,’ Boeheim said. ‘I just said what was obvious. Well, when we haven’t played well, we have won. We haven’t played well for five games, and we managed to win the five. Tonight we did play well, and that was the difference.’That was the big difference. With the end of the two-game tournament in Atlantic City, N.J., Boeheim and the Orange players felt SU took strides in playing like a Top 10 team. But more specifically, with the 80-76 victory over Georgia Tech Saturday, Syracuse basked in the first performance of the young season in which SU believed it played up to its talent.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt was what was expected out of the Thanksgiving weekend trip. Boeheim and the SU players said it would be the first true test of the year.The No. 8 Orange (6-0) will look to build off that performance Tuesday while hosting fellow 2010 Central New York NCAA Tournament team Cornell (2-4) at 7 p.m. inside the Carrier Dome. The Orange and the Big Red both reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last year, as Cornell lost to No. 1-seeded Kentucky in the Dome.But it’s a game that comes for SU light-years away from the 86-67 win over Canisius on Nov. 14, when Boeheim called the Orange overrated.At the crux of that: After the five games with which Boeheim wasn’t pleased, SU found a rhythm, especially offensively. A successful offense was the paramount step off the two tussles against major conference teams. SU shot 48 percent over the weekend after entering the games shooting 40 percent — and 32.6 percent in first halves.For SU guard Scoop Jardine, Saturday’s win was much simpler, though. It was just that — a win.‘It’s a win, we get better from it,’ Jardine said. ‘We learn from it.’With the matchup against the Big Red, Syracuse will have to learn against a similar inferior opponent like the four SU faced to start the season. Cornell is a shell of the team that last appeared in the Dome. It lost four starters from last year, along with head coach Steve Donahue. The sole returning starter is junior guard Chris Wroblewski, who is averaging a team-high 15.3 points per game.Unlike Cornell, Kris Joseph is professing that this year’s incarnation of SU is a team without just one go-to player. He was happy with the Legends Classic title, calling it a ’10 out of 10′ as SU won the way he expects to win this year. Not by blowing out teams but by playing a physical, balanced, competitive brand of basketball.‘We are going to have to fight till the end,’ Joseph said. ‘And one thing I found out about us is we have a lot of heart. … That’s one thing we are going to need to do throughout the remainder of the year. Keep fighting.’SU fought enough for the win. But after the game, the scene of Boeheim not at the podium but in SU’s locker room hinted at the fact that he said SU still has a ways to go.Void of almost all of the press, Boeheim’s sons smiled and kidded as they coddled the Legends Classic trophy. Around the locker room wall, though, their father slumped in a chair with an entourage of a half-dozen people circling him. He was tired from the weekend.There is more that needs to be done, and he said that.‘This was a tremendous tournament for us,’ he said. ‘But we have certainly got to play better.’aolivero@syr.educenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more