Hey, SOJ-ers! Bet you're pretty surprised to see ol' JP back on here. Presently, I'm in Texas until mid-August, but that hasn't stopped me from keeping up with the Seton Hall Basketball news, as well as Big East news in general.
News broke today that Syracuse is leaving the Big East in 2013, and as part of that agreement, the Orange will pay the conference $7.5 million dollars and "other considerations," whatever those are (my guess- Jim Boeheim's heart and soul).
Many people are saying "good riddance" to the 'Cuse, and honestly, I should be one of them. In my mind, especially during the last four years, the Orange were right up there with Rutgers in terms of "teams I will not ever root for ever in my life if I was within an inch of death." I could not stand anything about them- their stubborn 2-3 zone, their obnoxious fans invading the Rock every time they played the Pirates, the "New York's College Team" thing, the face Jim Boeheim made whenever one of the officials had the gall to call a foul on his team, and of course, Eric Devendorf, Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku, and every single one of their players (especially Devendorf- there's not been a more disliked player in the Big East Conference in recent years).
But that's what made it unbelievably satisfying when the Pirates beat them.
It only happened once in my four years of undergraduate life, on Tuesday January 25th, 2011. The Pirates were coming off two agonizing home losses to Georgetown and Rutgers and despite the fact that Syracuse was also slumping badly, one assumed that because of the location (the Carrier Dome) that the Pirates would fall.
Enter Jeremy Hazell.
That night, the Pirates quite simply did not miss. Stats may say that they actually missed 28 shots that night, but in reality, the team just made everything in drubbing the Orange 90-68.
Threes, twos, free throws, it did not matter. The Pirates, who couldn't buy a bucket all season to that point, caught fire. Hazell had one of his patented "OK, I'm just gonna keep stepping back each time" games, hitting for 28 PTS along with 9 REB, 4 AST and 4 STL with only two TO. He shot 10-17 overall and 5-10 from deep (and we mean WAY deep) in one of the finest performances of his career.
As you can see from the highlights above, that performance was cathartic for not only the team, but to a fanbase starved for something to cheer about. It was the best example of an "eff you" game that I can remember from the Pirates. Personally, I was beside myself with glee- the Pirates had FINALLY beaten Syracuse, AND it was on the road. I was skipping through the hallways at WSOU- I kid you not.
And that's why it's sad to see the Orange leave.
HUH? WHAT? THAT'S PREPOSTEROUS!
No, it's not. You see, by Syracuse leaving the conference they helped to build, we won't get another of those games like the one back in January of '11. After they bolt for the ACC, we won't get the elation that we all felt that night. Syracuse was always one of the top dogs in the Big East, and beating them (not just for the Pirates, but for everyone else, too) MEANT something. Now it will just be another out-of-conference game, if it means anything at all. We won't get to truly "Juice the Cuse" anymore.
The Pirates will get one last crack at the Orange this season at the Prudential Center, so hopefully they can give the Pirate fans that excitement again and finally send the Orange fans home with a loss in Newark like they did to West Virginia this past season. Savor the moment if that indeed does come to pass, because it likely won't happen again.
I can't stand Syracuse, yes. But I would also rather have the satisfaction of beating them than to watch them leave.