No need for the Orange to slink back home, after their 74-to-70 loss at Clemson in the NIT last night. They fought their way back from a 17 point deficit, and played with the spirit born of their strong finish in the regular season, and the fire lit in them when they didn’t make the cut for the NCAA tournament.
For a long time, that rejection will be the definition of “March Madness” for Syracuse. Fans who, a few weeks earlier, had booed their own team stood and cheered for the Orange through two NIT victories on their home court.
SU’s Terrence Roberts, who buried his head under a jersey in dejection after the loss, was one of the players who helped The Post Standard’s Kim Baxter to analyze why the game did not go Syracuse’s way.
“They sped us up. That’s what really killed us. They sped us up and made us play the way we didn’t want to play. We were forced to play at their pace instead of ours. Once we got it back down, we were able to get the shots we wanted to and we were able to get any rebound we wanted, but it was too late.”
So there’ll be no trip to Madison Square Garden for the finals next week, but there’ll also be no shame in what the SU basketball squad was able to do after a shaky start to their season, and what could have been a crippling psychological blow by the NCAA that was widely considered- in CNY and elsewhere- to be grossly unfair.