FRANKLY SPEAKING: Another Date With Destiny?

In a few weeks, Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim will tell us at his team's annual media day at Manley Field House that all the celebrations are over, last season was last season, and that the school's first-ever NCAA basketball national championship is ancient history.

In coach-speak, that's certainly true. Carmelo Anthony is making his millions with the NBA's Denver Nuggets and Boeheim's orange Gaucho-style hat is in mothballs. Now, instead of winning the championship, there's the business of defending the championship. Could happen.

Yes, Anthony was (and is) a wondrous talent but no one gave Syracuse a second thought last year when it came to contending for the top spot in college basketball. Not with a roster dominated by underclassmen and not with a starting lineup consisting of two freshmen, two sophomores and just one senior in the person of Kueth Duany. As a matter of fact, Syracuse was the first team since Villanova in 1985 to be unranked in the preseason Associated Press poll and win the national championship, and only the second team since 1975 to achieve the feat.

Now, with Anthony and his game average of 22 points, 10 rebounds and untold clutch plays off to the NBA's greener (as in cash) pastures, not many are giving the 2003-2004 band of Orangemen as much as a snowball's chance in you know where, to successfully defend the crown.

Winning a title takes several parts luck in addition to skill, and playing four of their six NCAA Tournament games in Boston and Albany certainly didn't hurt the Orange. Will good fortune smile as broadly this year on Boeheim and his Anthony-less yet extremely talented group?

The rest of Frankly Speaking can only be found in this month's issue of The Juice.

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