As I watched Syracuse basketball stage a huge comeback and ultimately defeat Colgate on Tuesday night, I thought of this quote.
“But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”
Sylvester Stallone – Rocky Balboa
For some, sports are about winning and losing. It’s about rankings and statistics/analytics. And while those are nice and things I can get into sometimes, too, I was reminded watching Syracuse basketball battle Colgate why I love being a fan.
You see, when I was a little boy, I loved rooting for my hometown team. I watched Pearl. I watched Leo. I watched Derrick and Sherm. And it wasn’t about their record…it was about watching the team I love fight to win and simply rooting for my team in Orange.
Syracuse basketball showed a lot of grit and fight in beating Colgate.
So when Colgate jumped out to a huge lead against the Orange, I was a bit disappointed but I knew there was still time and I still had hope. In my mind, that’s my team and until it’s over I will believe. It doesn’t mean I’m not worried but I do believe.
And while Syracuse basketball being down as much as 24 points at one point could have been enough to finish with a loss, the Orange fought back.
For whom the bell rolls? It was Chris Bell, who had a career-high 25 points hitting three-pointers at an amazing rate and at times felt like he was carrying the team offensively. Judah Mintz found the next gear and pushed the ball like the future NBA player we all know he can be.
JJ Starling showed leadership, grit and determination. Maliq Brown brought it on both sides of the court especially with a steal and a dunk that I believe sealed the win. Quadir Copeland showed some aggression. Justin Taylor helped close the gap with a huge three that looked like he was creating a beautiful rainbow in the Dome.
And credit to new Syracuse basketball head coach Adrian “Red” Autry because what might have been the biggest change in momentum was utilizing the press. At times in the first half, it seemed like the Orange were missing something.
But when they started applying more pressure, it felt like the Orange got their groove back and were more aggressive defensively and making better choices offensively, too. Colgate started to struggle hitting threes after a first half where they couldn’t miss and the Orange made those script jerseys proud pushing the ball and taking better shots.
But more than anything, this was a tale of heart. A tale of determination and courage. A tale of never giving up even when it looks like you’re out so long as there’s time left to change it. And a tale of why I might get frustrated a bit but I can’t quit. This game is a reminder of why you don’t fire coaches after one bad half or one bad game but have faith that the team you love will fight back.
Congratulations to the staff and team on the big-time win against a very good Colgate team. Thank you for the excitement that reminded me why I love my Orange and why it’s never over until the clock is at 00:00. And much like you in the Dome, I can’t quit believing in you either. I’ll only ever ask one thing of you win or lose and that’s that you keep fighting and I’ll keep fighting with you.