DeBaise: A columnist’s ode to Syracuse basketball

Despite the encroaching threat of the newest polar vortex’s return to Syracuse, N.Y., the Carrier Dome had plenty of heat circulating its interior in the nail-biting game against Pittsburgh last Saturday.

And the hearts of everyone on campus seem to be aflutter, thinking about the next home matchup, where New York’s favorite curmudgeon will face his most worthy opponent in the game, a man who is actually beginning to resemble a blue devil. With all of this basketball excitement heating up, I can’t help but ask myself — how the hell is Syracuse so highly rated year after year?

Forgive my crassness — I’ll explain. The thing is, SU is annually ranked in the Top 25, usually the Top 10, heading into the Big Dance, among big-time teams like Kentucky, Duke, UNC, you name it.

It’s the same cast of characters every year, except there’s one major difference.

These other teams always seem to be full of barely-believable college students, incredible athletes, obviously bound for NBA careers, sleek and tall and destined for greatness. SU’s roster always looks like some kind of ragtag nonsense from an inspirational Disney movie.

For example, let’s line up some of the SU all-stars at the moment against the cast from “Newsies,” a heart-warming tale about a bunch of poor New York City hooligans just trying to fight the power that beats and lowers the prices for newspapers being sold to newspaper delivery boys.

There’s the obvious leader of the pack, the street-smart savvy fella who would later end up playing Batman. Tyler Ennis, here’s looking at you, kid.

He put the team on his back and led the little group of tykes to protest against the big guys. He also gets the romantic angle and gets to hook up with the cute sister of his best friend — keep your fingers crossed, ladies. But, that facial hair on Ennis makes him much more closely resemble Jafar from “Aladdin” than Christian Bale.

And then there is the hardscrabble Irish kid with a heart of gold, who stays out of the spotlight but has some of the best moments of the movie. This one is so obvious it’s almost painful to point it out. Trevor Cooney. Like Gerry McNamara before you, you’ve got a cannon, shooting both into the basket from beyond the arc, but more importantly, into our hearts.

And then there’s that kid with the limp who you want to cheer for but always ends up just getting on your damn nerves. The part you were born to play, DaJuan Coleman.

…Too soon?

Now unfortunately in “Newsies,” there is no bespectacled leader of the group, who is so unstoppably negative it’s impossible not to laugh out loud at his obscenity-infused press conferences. But come on, no analogy is ever THAT perfect. (I also think Disney would have had a hard time maintaining a PG rating with a Boeheim impersonator — but oh, the shenanigans he would have gotten into!)

It’s the same thing year after year, and I think this recipe for Syracuse basketball is what keeps fans so loyal.

It’s the same reason, really, why people live in Syracuse at all. Why would you want to live in sunny North Carolina — boring! — when you could live in a city where polar vortexes frequently pass through? Hello, record setting lows.

Why root for a team full of one-and-done superstars when you could root for a team where there’s always a frighteningly high chance that one of our starters is going to foul out and a 5’5” walk-on who seems to have been at SU for an inexplicably long amount of time is going to have to stir up some magic?

It’s an absolute no-brainer. To hell with the NBA gunners: root for the Syracuse Orange.

Chelsea DeBaise is a senior writing major at Syracuse University. She remembers where she watched the 2003 National Championship and she used to have Gerry McNamara as the desktop background on her computer — creepy. Her column will appear every week in the indisputably best section of The Daily Orange, Pulp. She can be reached via email at or on Twitter @CDeBaise124. 


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