Syracuse, before tonight, had never won an ACC Tournament game in three tries.
Which tells us only that it took the Orange that long to play Wake in the ACC Tournament.
Let the record show that at around 9:09 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, the Deacons closed the book on another basketball season and put it on the shelf. Historians may find the need to pull it down from time to time for one reference or another, but I imagine most fans reading this would probably just as soon forget it’s there.
What would, after all, be worth remembering? Certainly not the 11-20 overall record, or the 4-15 mark against fellow ACC schools.
Oh yeah, my bad. Bryant Crawford did get an honorable mention for All-ACC.
And what can we say about the way it ended — with a 73-64 loss – that hasn’t been said in so many of the previous setbacks?
Yes, the Orange did need the win badly for its NCAA Tournament hopes, after losing four of its final six down the stretch of the regular season to fall to 19-12 and 8-10.
And yes the Orange were playing in Brooklyn in front of what was described as a generous and adoring home-state crowd.
But again, what Syracuse had going for it most of all was the opportunity to play Wake. Teams have to relish that opportunity, just as they did for all four seasons Jeff Bzdelik was head coach and now for three of the four with Danny Manning at the helm.
You know that if you play Wake, at some point or another Wake is prone to stop playing.
The Deacons kept playing offense tonight, scoring on seven straight possessions to pull to 62-56 with 1:24 remaining.
Problem is, they had long since checked out on defense. Syracuse, one of the most offensively challenged teams in the ACC, scored on its final eight possessions to keep the Deacons at arms’ length.
For the half, the Orange scored on 21 of the 33 times they crossed half-court with the basketball, shooting 67 percent (12-for-18) over the final 20 minutes.
But none of the last eight Wake teams have been adept at keeping the opponent from scoring, so why should this one be any different?
Opponents also have the luxury of knowing they don’t have to worry about stopping Doral Moore, the 7-1 center. No one does that better than Moore’s teammates.
Moore, whose 69 percent field-goal accuracy would lead the league if he had enough attempts, got five shots from the floor tonight. He appears to have hit the wall physically, to the point he logged only 23 minutes tonight. But in the final game of his junior season, Doral Moore contributed 7 points and 4 rebounds.
By my count, he touched the ball once in the second half off a pass from a teammate – which resulted in a dunk that pulled Wake to 60-48.
To be the force he should be as a senior, he’s going to have to get in better shape and he’s going to have to get better teammates more willing to share the basketball.
My good friend Wes Durham, along with color analyst Cory Alexander, made the case for Danny Manning’s fifth year with 4 ½ minutes remaining. And from everything I know, it appears Manning will get that fifth year, despite his 52-72 overall record and 21-56 mark against those ACC teams he was hired to compete against.
Maybe the rosy scenario they painted will be realized. Maybe the Deacons of 2018-19 will be the Clemson of 2017-18, the team of veterans who got tired enough of losing that they found a way to win. Maybe all three scholarship juniors, Moore, Crawford and Keyshawn Woods (1-for-9 from the floor tonight) will return. Maybe sophomores Brandon Childress and Donovan Mitchell and freshmen Chaundee Brown and Olivier Sarr will show vast improvement.
Maybe the program will get a major influx of talent from the incoming class of Jaylen Hoard, Isaiah Mucius, Sharone Wright and Jamie Lewis.
Wake fans can always wish and hope. They certainly have enough practice.
So the book has been closed on Manning’s fourth season, the one that began with consecutive losses to Georgia Southern, Liberty and Drake and ended with seven losses in the final nine games. Another season ended at the ACC Tournament before the other three ACC teams from North Carolina even arrived.
It’s a book that’s destined to gather dust, just like the ones next to it on the shelf.
But did I mention that Bryant Crawford got an honorable mention for All-ACC?