Fans show signs of life in confrontation

The Carrier Dome survived an invasion on Friday. Yes, the Orangemen did dispatch another less than formidable, up-state opponent by more than 20 points, but the most exciting battle took place off the court, in the student section.

A small contingent of Cornell fans made the hour-long trek down I-81 to support their boys in red. While they were small in numbers, they certainly made their presence felt. In fact, supporters of the Orange could learn a few things from their loud voices and unwavering cheering.

Even surrounded by thousands of unfriendly fans, with their team down by more than 20 and outmatched by Syracuse's superior size and skills, these die-hard followers of The Big Red could not be silenced.

The presence of these haughty hostiles finally woke the SU student section from the collective slumber it had fallen into following two mellow games against mid-major opponents. Like a sleeping rhino getting bitten by a fly, the sting from the audacity of these Cornell fans to actually sit in the Syracuse student section perked the SU students to attention and sent them into an irate rage.

Finally, ‘Cuse fans began to realize their full potential as a cheering body (Hakim Warrick's jaw-dropping dunks didn't hurt either).

A battle of words ensued. The Orange enthusiasts fought valiantly, considering their significant deficit in ammunition. There isn't much you can say to an Ivy League student when they make fun of your SAT scores.

SU students, however, countered by pointing out the extra leisure time they enjoyed in high school. While there was no real victor, except on the scoreboard, Orange fans gained something much more valuable than a win: solidarity. For the first time in three games, the anger of the masses was deflected away from Craig Forth. Students united to defend their honor and support the Orange, instead of booing them.

The area behind the south basket still could be confused with a library when compared to the rowdy student sections of powerhouses like Maryland and Duke. Maryland students, of course, have something to cheer about: free tickets and a national championship team. While SU students pay $85 for season tickets and support a team that failed to make the NCAA tournament last year, they have begun to show signs of life.

To have any chance against Big East powerhouses such as Pittsburgh, however, SU devotees will have to turn up their energy even further. Syracuse students have been so nice to the other teams, it seems as if they heard the message delivered by the P.A. announcer exhorting fans to treat referees and opposing with respect, and said, "Yes, sir. The Carrier Dome is a supportive, caring environment."

The only negative comments that have emanated from the crowd have been directed at Craig Forth. The P.A. guy should be announcing, "Hey guys, he's on our team." Regardless of how badly he plays, he's what Jim Boeheim has to work with. Jeremy McNeil can't play the whole game; even if he had the stamina, he would foul out in the first half.

Booing Craig Forth at every opportunity (and when he's just sitting on the bench) will not help him to get any better, but rather only make things worse. The competition thus far has not exactly been stellar (and there isn't much to look forward to for a while), so the low turnout of students at games can be excused.

Well, it can be excused only if students want to be labeled fair-weather fans. What is not excusable, however, is booing your own team. SU students would be wise to come out now and practice cheering the right way, or they will pay the price in January when the real season starts.

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