Basketball season has begun, and that’s a good thing here in Central New York. In fact, many fans are sure that it is Coach Jim Boeheim’s men’s basketball team that drives the Orange bus.
Last night, my good friend MIke Waters and I had the chance to talk with a whole bunch of Orange fans. The type of supporter, in fact, that works up there on the university hill. The kind folks at the Syracuse University Book Store invited us to be part of a local author contingent on hand for the annual Faculty and Staff Holiday Shopping gala.
A lot of them were ready to ask questions about the basketball portions of our book “The Syracuse Fan’s Survival Guide to the ACC.” We shared tales gathered while researching the colleges that make up the Atlantic Coast Conference. Thank you to those who bought the handy collection to give to loved ones as a holiday present. (You can purchase it yourself by clicking on the link above, and the price is pretty darn reasonable.)
The Orange basketball squad has started 4-0, and plays in the Maui Classic in Hawaii on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. (Please hit the beach at least once, fellas.) The first ACC basketball game ever for the Orange will be Saturday, Jan. 4, in the Carrier Dome against former Big East rival Miami.
So, put in a basketball mood, this Maryland grad and three-decades-plus ACC follower will offer this memory.
In the late 1980s, I’d been a Central New Yorker for more than a half-decade. My great friend George VanDaniker scored some tickets to a Terps-Duke game, and down south I went.
Duke beat Maryland in Cole Field House. The rivalry was on. George and I stopped at a pub afterward to catch up and whine a little about the loss to the hated Blue Devils. And who walks in but a very small contingent led by Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K and his friends sat at a table. From the bar, George and I sent over beers for his party. Gotta play nice. And Coach K turned to us, raised his bottle, and mouthed a sincere thank you. Sportsmanship. When George and I were ready for another, the bar tender informed us they were courtesy of that table over there. More sportsmanship. I learned once more how you can despise a program on the court but admire it off the court.
Are you ready for your new set of Syracuse ACC basketball memories?
Of course, some people are still focused on the college football season.
The last time Waters and I sat behind a table and talked to folks about our book, it was the start of the league football season. The Orange fans who gathered at the Barnes & Nobel on Erie Boulevard in DeWitt were looking forward to a big game a few day’s hence. Syracuse got creamed by Clemson in that first-ever ACC football game. It’s been an odd-duck season, as SU fans have witnessed either tough, hard-earned wins (vs. North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Maryland) or hideous, hide-your-eyes-from-the-scoreboard losses (vs. Clemson, Georgia Tech and Florida State).
Here’s what has been established: The Orange is a long, long way from the top tier of the ACC. On the other hand, the Orange is right there battling and competitive in the middle of the pack.
Two games remain to decide whether this first ACC football campaign is a success, both in the Carrier Dome. Saturday the Orange plays Pittsburgh. Nov. 30 it faces Boston College.
Win them both, the league and overall marks are 5-3 and 7-5, with a bowl game to look forward to.
Fall in both, and the league and overall records are losing. Coach Scott Shafer’s first year would be judged a drop-off from Doug Marrone’s regime.
Split them and everything is even-steven, with a bowl game left to tip the ledger one way or the other.