I generally consider myself a pretty devoted fan of all my sports teams. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been a Syracuse basketball fan since I was 10 years old, and for most of the past (almost) 21 years I would consider myself very devoted. I watch all the games, frequently in my team apparel during the regular season, and when March rolls around I start with the superstitions. I can’t prove it, but I’m fairly certain that by eating the same food and wearing the same clothes every game day, I willed the team to the 2003 title. But this year something just didn’t click with me. Even when we were winning, and looked like we might be headed for a number one ranking, I didn’t feel the connection with this team like I have with those prior. As the losses started coming more frequently towards the end of the season, I felt myself drifting further and further from the team, culminating with the extremely disappointing drubbing at the hands of Georgetown last weekend. I was feeling negative going into this final Big East tournament. I saw us winning one or two games in the Big East tournament, and ending up in the NCAA tourney with a dreaded #5 seed. But then, just as I was ready to write this years team off, some hope emerged. We started hitting some shots again, and had the look of a team with some life and heart, (a team that left the building during the second half of last weekends Georgetown game). Following last nights overtime victory over Georgetown, I’m all the way back. I finally saw the heart of this years team, and found our connection. Triche and Southerland have stepped up mightily, leading the team, and finding their shooting strokes (Southerland tied assistant coach Gerry McNamara’s tourney record for 3 point field goals last night with 16). They also look like two guys who might finally understand that best case scenario they have 7 games left in their respective basketball careers, and they look like they want to make the most of them. The team also looked like a group that just finds a way to win, a look they had earlier in the season when Southerland was out with academic issues. If you had told me prior to last nights game that we would have been carried by Keita going 7-7 from the free throw line, and that Cooney would out score CJ Fair, I would have said you were crazy. But that’s what happened. In interviews following last nights game the players said Boeheim explained the significance of the Big East tournament, and what it means to him. It seems like the players took it to heart. I don’t think Boeheim cares more about winning this last Big East tournament than he does about winning another NCAA title, but I think it’s a close second. Personally, while it would certainly be nice to go out on top, I’ll feel ok if we loss to Louisville tonight. We’ve certainly improved our seed for the NCAA tournament, and more importantly we’ve regained our confidence that we can win, and the desire to want to win. And most importantly, (not really) I’m fully back on board with this team. So I’ll be tuned in tonight, eating the same food, (and during last nights game I ate a popsicle (yeah I know, shut up) and somehow it was too cold and stuck to my lip and ripped the skin off, and I’m doing that again tonight, that’s dedication) and wearing the same clothes, and willing the team to victory. Let’s go Cuse, WHOO! (that’s for my mother, for those who think I’ve lost it).