Syracuse basketball has new life after NCAA Tournament selection

The Syracuse basketball Orange are ready for NCAA Tournament play.

The celebration from the Syracuse Orange basketball team when they were selected for the NCAA Tournament showed a team full of jubilation, relief and excitement. The downs during a season with many of them disappeared. The 2015-16 version of the Orange had a second chance. They had new life. 

But they to wait throughout nearly an entire two hour selection show before their name was announced. Even with a leaked bracket that showed them in, it still led to tense moments. 

"It was nerve wracking the whole time," Frank Howard said on Syracuse Athletics' YouTube Channel. "Until the bracket leaked, that kind of chilled me out a little bit and calmed down. But I didn't believe it until they announced we were part of the bracket. I just kind of chilled out. I was happy."

Now that they are in, Syracuse can focus on the postseason. That their record is now 0-0. That they have an opportunity to make this season a memorable one. 

"Just getting in is real exciting," freshman forward Tyler Lydon said via Syracuse Athletics. "I think all the guys are ready and practice has been great the last few days."

"Different energy in the gym," Howard said. "Definitely high intensity because our season kind of got reborn. We want to play for National Championships and the NIT would've been kind of a failure for us. We're happy we've got another shot at it and we'll make the best of it."

Standing in Syracuse's way in the first round are the Dayton Flyers. A team that knocked the Orange out of the tournament two years ago in the last postseason game they played. That was an upset win by Dayton. This time around, Syracuse plays the role of underdog. 

"They play a little undersized but they're real physical," Lydon said. "They set a lot of outside screens and inside screens against the zone. So we've just got to come ready to play our game, play physical and crash the boards."

Two key stats in the 55-53 loss in 2014 were rebounding and three-point shooting. Syracuse was 0-10 from distance while the Flyers outrebounded Syracuse 35-31. Dayton made seven of their 16 three-point attempts. If the outcome is going to be different this time around, those two areas must improve. 

"Definitely rebounding and protecting the paint," Howard said. "Just making sure we can score efficiently and just control the game."

Syracuse should play loose on Friday and with a renewed sense of energy. Does that mean they beat Dayton or go on a long run? Of course not. That opportunity is certainly in front of them. Even a win over Dayton combined with a competitive game against Michigan State makes this season a success given the team's flaws. 

It is also valuable experience for their three freshmen on the roster that will help next season. But that is the macro view of things. 

In the micro, a team that feels like they've been given a second life can be a dangerous one. Especially one with talent. The Orange certainly hope that is the case starting Friday afternoon.

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