Orange Madness

The ball is tipped and there you are.  You’re running for your life, you’re a shooting star. And all those years no one knows.  Just how hard you worked, but now it shooooooooooooooooooooooooows… 

Could Luther Vandross have sung a more inspirational song? I think not.  Today, bloggies, begins possibly my most favorite sports event of the year…the NCAA tournament.  I love college basketball.  Specifically Syracuse basketball. Seriously love.  I know that I write “I love this” and “I love that” pretty often in this blog, but if you know me in real life, this is NO JOKE. I often change my Facebook profile picture during the the season to reflect my love for the team. When it comes to college basketball I will stop at nothing to watch the game.  I rearrange my already packed DVR in order to watch live.  With my fellow fan friend Laura, I usually watch most games.  If we aren’t together, our texts during the games are epic.  And when it comes to March Madness, my common response to emails about future plans is “I can not commit to any plans until the bracket is released”. Nothing comes between me and my love for the Orange.

Have you ever been to the Carrier Dome for a basketball game before?  Well, put it on your bucket list, sports fans.  It is an incredible place to watch a basketball game.  On my 19th birthday, while all of my other freshman girlfriends were going through the rush process, my 3 guy friends took me to a Cuse V Seton Hall (ironically, my hometown team) basketball game.  Though I wasn’t 100% sure what was going on during the game (seriously, it has taken me 12 years of fandom to figure out the significance of the 2:3 zone), the feeling in the Carrier Dome that night was electrifying!  They don’t call it the loud house for nothing.  The building literally rocks during the entire game.  Otto runs the perimeter of the court and the sea of orange fans chant “F* ’em up, F* ’em up, GO SU!” Even the Dunkin Bright halftime show gets more applause than some Knicks games I’ve been to. I was addicted!

My first two years at school, the team wasn’t so great.  And then…and then came the 2002-2003 basketball season.  Carmelo.  Gerry.  Hakim.  Kueth.  Jeremy.  Love love love love love.  This team.  This glorious team.  As I spent the winter of 2003 studying abroad in London; the Syracuse basketball team was making its way through the regular season, the Big East Tournament, and through the field of 64 to find themselves in the National Championship game.  The other abroadies and I would hang out at the Sports Cafe in Piccadilly to   watch all of the games.  After each ulcer-inducing gut-wrenching game, I remember screaming into my pay-as-you-go cell phone every night to my dad after each win “We are a second half team! I knew we were going to do it!” 

That championship game night is something I will never forget. Since the game started at 2am London time, we had made special arrangements that the Sports Cafe would stay open for us to watch.  Decked in head to toe Syracuse gear, we all filed into the bar where they set up a huge screen for us to watch the game.  A tense and exhausting few hours to say the least, when Hakim Warrick blocked Kansas’ game tying shot to win the game, it was all worth it!! We ran through the streets of London as if we owned them-and we did as it was 5am!  People jumped in the fountains, we screamed through the streets, we called our friends who were celebrating on Marshall Street.  WE WERE THE CHAMPIONS!

But being a Syracuse Basketball fan isn’t always sunshine and championships.  This year alone we dealt with the Bernie Fine allegations and the double suspension of (not so) Fab Melo. Billy Edelin was suspended in 2001 for misconduct with a female student (then disappeared off the face of the earth).  Arinze Onuaku suffered a (basically) career ending injury during the 2010 Big East Tournament.  We prematurely lost players to the NBA draft: Jonny Flynn, Wes Johnson, Paul Harris, Carmelo Anthony-probably Dion Waiters this year.  And let’s NOT discuss the excruciating loss to Vermont in the first round of the 2005  tournament.  I am STILL trying to recover from that game.

What, or should I say who, gets me from season to season is the man himself, James (Jim) Arthur Boeheim.  He is my spiritual leader.  He is my true center.  If he wanted me to join a cult I’d say “where’s the kool-aid and matching sneakers?”.  He is the glue that holds the team and it’s fans together.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no matter what political party he is a part of, I would vote Boeheim for President.  He is the 3rd most winningest (is that a word?!) coach in college basketball and the 1st most winningest in my heart.  The team line-up changes year to year, but he is the one constant the Orange fans have.  His coaching style is like a dad…tough love.  He’ll sit a player in the “punishment chair” after a horrendous play, but then highlight their strength of character in a post game interview.  He’s taught the players that it isn’t about the individual, it’s about the team.  He genuinely loves Syracuse and Syracuse genuinely loves him.  Not to mention the fact that his face looks like it’s made of silly putty and his side-court hand gestures have made me believe that his wrist joints don’t exist. 

On a personal note (well, this is my blog, so it is ALL a personal note), the biggest Robin family March Madness nightmare is slowly becoming a reality.  My beloved Orange could possibly meet my sister’s Wisconsin Badgers in the Sweet 16 round.  For my father, I think this would be his own personal hell.  He will be democratic and wear gear from both schools, but without a doubt he will not pick up a phone call from either of his daughters, and will probably watch the game alone…in a closet…trying not to root for anyone.  For me, if (when) Syracuse beats Wisconsin it will be my own personal victory.  Take THAT admissions office in Madison!!

At 3:10pm today, Syracuse tips off against UNC-Ashville in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.  And even though we are ranked #1 in the East Region, it is not going to be an easy road to New Orleans for us.  Taking the Big East Defensive Player of the Year out of the equation is genuinely a frightening thought, but as the experts have said all year, our bench is “deep” and we will fill the gap that the wonky eyed Brazilian has left us with.  Hopefully (Rakeem) Christmas will come early for us Orange-folk, and our team will shine as bright as Rudolphs nose!  I hope the path to the championship game is paved in orange, but no matter what happens in the tournament, I will ALWAYS love March Madness and the Syracuse basketball.  Just remember what Luther sang:

And when it’s done
win or lose
you always did your best
cuz inside you knew…
(that) ONE SHINING MOMENT, YOU REACHED FOR THE SKY
ONE SHINING MOMENT, YOU KNEW
ONE SHINING MOMENT, YOU WERE WILLING TO TRY
ONE SHINING MOMENT….

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