Calm before the storm

BOSTON— Take one look at the calm, confident faces of this Syracuse team, and you wouldn't know that they're sitting on the brink of a Final Four berth.

As the Syracuse starting 5 and Coach Jim Boeheim answered questions on Friday, the players took turns whispering jokes, impersonating their teammates and in one case, calling one Brandon Triche to speak up – he had yet to answer a question in 15 minutes on the stage.

The calm mood exuded by the Orange, mimics that of their ultra-stoic, Hall of Fame coach.

"He's one of the calmest guys I know. Nothing seems to bother him," said a guy who knows something about staying calm and cool, Dion Waiters.

As Boeheim looks to once again prove his doubters and haters wrong, and at this point there seem to be a lot more of the latter than the former, he guides the Orange through high stakes games using an interesting philosophy.

"These players, this is what they do. They want to play in this game," he said. "There shouldn't be any pressure. Just go out and play. If you're the best team, you win."

If you think that's just coach-speak, this is what Boeheim said next:

"If we'd have lost last night, they wouldn't have had anything to be ashamed about. They played the best they could, and if the guy makes a shot at the end, we lose. That happens. That's the game."

It takes a certain level of understanding to come to that conclusion. And after 890 wins and a National Championship in 2003, Boeheim has reached that understanding.

As a freshman, Gerry McNamara showed he battled through the pressure all the way to the '03 title. When asked if there are any similarities between his championship team and this year's squad he responds, "Yeah. They're both talented and confident." He added that this season of turmoil has actually helped the Orange block out any unwanted thoughts in their head.

"Look at what this team has been through," said McNamara. "This has been there safety net. This has been there safe haven."

March is supposed to be mad. But for Syracuse, it's only mad for those who aren't on the court.


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