Orange Madness took a different turn than the usual expectation this year.
Following two straight years of falling short in the Sweet 16, the Orange fell to Ohio State in the Elite 8 during last year's NCAA tournament. But, after losing their top four players, three of which to the NBA Draft, the Syracuse men's basketball team seems poised for another run in the NCAA tournament.
In Friday's Orange Madness, the team showed off their defensive prowess in the closest intra-squad scrimmage in years, the Orange proved that their off-season losses would not impact the defensive play in their upcoming season.
Much like the not incredibly well-known core of returning players, hip Hop artist Wale's performance accentuated the attention to detail on both offense and defense that the Orange players worked on during their off season.
Although the Orange lost their four best offensive players, Orange Madness highlighted the return to an extremely effective 2-3 zone defense, most notably with the play of big men Rakeem Christmas,DaJuan Coleman and Baye Keita. Even this early in the season, the inside presence proved to be a force, with scores under 30 for both factions of the squad.
Orange Madness, hosted by recent grad Scoop Jardine and girlfriend/Michael Jordan's daughter Jasmine Jordan, proved once again that the Orange are a team to be feared.
Heading into their last season as Big East competitors, the pep rally showed that the team has not lost the intensity that resulted in a No. 1 seed in the NCAA bracket this past season.
Orange Madness, highlighted by Wale's performance, the Orange equally showed their offensive presence, including James Southerland's second-straight victory in the Slam Dunk Contest.
Although the scoring master's of last year have moved on to professional stage, the Orange proved themselves to be adequately prepared for the rigors of a challenging Big East schedule with the defensive play of the big men and the offensive production of team leaders Brandon Triche and C.J. Fair. Considering the losses of Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, Fab Melo and Dion Waiters, the Orange and head coach Jim Boeheim showed the Orange faithful their ability to excel at the national level, proving their No. 15 ranking to be an understatement of the team's potential.
Although early in the season, seniors Southerland and Triche attempt to show their abilities as leaders and game changers, as they will lead the Orange to what they expect to be another successful season.
The Syracuse Orange men's basketball team proved that they should not be taken lightly, even in light of the loss of four key players.
Orange Madness ended 30 minutes early due to a 25-year-old man being stabbed in the Carrier Dome concourse area.