Early morning musings

It was a quiet night in Armory Square.

Between the snow, students leaving for Thanksgiving break and the home team getting spanked by a school most fans had never even heard of before last March, the crowds in the Syracuse bars were non-existent last night.

Inside the Blue Tusk, about a dozen folks huddled near the bar, enjoying the best beer selection in Syracuse. None of them looked as though they had been at the game. None showed much interest in the high def TV screen at the end of the bar. Except for the me, the guy sipping the pint of Flying Dog and watching Sportscenter.

Eventually they showed hightlights of the Bucknell-SU game. But it was a segment on the Denver Nuggets that added some context to the evening. Most of the highlights involved the guy they call “Melo,” former Syracuse player Carmelo Anthony.

You might remember Melo. As a freshman he helped Syracuse win a national title. As a sophomore he, err … uh … well, he never became a sophomore. Anthony left after that national title, having already reached the pinnacle of college hoops. Had he stayed in college to get his degree, he would, come next May, be extremely well qualified for an entry level position in corporate America, earning a fraction of the millions he makes in the NBA.

Obviously there was not a lot of upside to staying in school for Anthony. The downside of his early departure, though, is very evident in this year’s Orangemen team. Watching Melo light up an NBA foe on Sportscenter, it was hard not to think about how good Syracuse might be this season had he stuck around for four years.

So maybe Jim Boeheim can be excused for being less than gracious in defeat last night, preferring to talk about how bad his team is, instead of giving Bucknell its props for pulling off it’s third upset of a Top 20 team in less than a year.

“It’s about our team. It is not about the teams we are playing. We are not playing very well,” Boeheim said.

They were saying the same sort of stuff in Kansas last March. Matter of fact, they kept saying it all summer. Similar thoughts were muttered in Pittsburgh back in January.

“There is a reason nobody respected us in the polls. We are not very good,” said Boeheim.

To Boeheim and Syracuse, no respect means being ranked in the second 10, not the top 10. Imagine how that might have sounded to Bucknell, which returns all five starters and seven of its top eight from a team that beats Saint Joe’s, Pitt and Kansas, all away from home, yet managed only four points in the latest AP poll.

“Bucknell is good, but they won at Rider by 2 points,” said Boeheim, dissing the Broncs and the Nison in the same sentence.

Pat Flannery refused to comment when asked how Syracuse might fare if they played at Rider, too.

Flannery was too busy heaping praise on the Orangemen.

“They are certainly athletic and big. It was the first chance I ever got to watch Gerry McNamara on the floor, other than watching him put on shows in high school. That was real special, to get to see him play in his senior year. They are very good,” said Flannery.

At the same time, Flannery does not need Boeheim to tell him how good his team is.

“We came in here and played a good basketball team and we proved we are a good basketball team,” Flannery said.

“I know I have a nice team . . . You have to be real, and the real part of it is we can play. We can play people. We can do a lot of different things. Our bench has been a real plus for us this year in both games, because we got in foul trouble in both of them. We have the bench. We have some size. We have some kids that can shool. We have a pretty good point guard who is as quick as they come. We have pretty good ingredients.”

They have something else Syracuse does not have – an unbeaten record.

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