The Party's Over

Practice has barely started, but the 2003-04 Syracuse men's basketball team has already accomplished one thing worth noting: After a seventh-month celebration of last year's national championship, the Orangemen have vowed to put the partying behind them.

It's no small feat considering the breathtaking highs Syracuse players have enjoyed since winning the championship in April. It was a whirlwind tour that included parades and back-slapping ceremonies and television appearances and a visit to the White House.

"Now," said Hakim Warrick, "we're ready to settle down and play some basketball. We're ready for everything to just go back to how it was before. We're ready for things to be the same."

They never will be.

In the weeks since returning to school, Syracuse basketball players have come to learn that, after last year's run, this season will be different than any other. Thanks to last year's title, this year's Orangemen will be burdened with more pressure and higher expectations.

The change has left the Orangemen a burning question even they can't answer: How will Syracuse respond to the scrutiny.

"It's scary, to be honest," said SU guard Josh Pace. "Our whole lives, our whole team really got changed by winning the title. We have to deal with different things now. A lot more people know us. A lot more people will watch us and see how we do. Syracuse basketball is bigger than ever."

It took SU freshman Terrence Roberts only a few days to learn as much. He walked into Goldstein Auditorium to buy lunch and found himself surrounded by three or four Syracuse students.

Surprised, Roberts (a highly-regarded forward who expects to see playing time his freshman season) walked quickly past the group. When one student shouted after him, Roberts said: "How do you know me."

"You're a basketball player," came the response. "We know all of you guys now."

More on this story can be found in this month's issue of The Juice.

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