Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of the Onions Address

(From L-R) Raftery, Daily Onions, Johnson
Mr. Raftery, Mr. Johnson, Members of the College basketball community, distinguished guests, and fellow hoop fans:

Today I want to begin by congratulating the men of THE Ohio State University basketball team, as well as your stud freshman Jared Sullinger, for remaining undefeated with a dominating performance over Purdue last night. You truly showed us that you deserve to be ranked number 1 at this point in the season.

It's no secret that those of us reading this today are disappointed in Syracuse's performance last night. The debates over whether or not the Cuse is overrated have been contentious; Daily Onions has fought fiercely for our beliefs that Syracuse is a top tier team. And that's a good thing. That's what a robust fan base does.

But there's a reason Syracuse's three game losing streak has given us pause. Amid all the noise and passions of what team is the best in the Big East, Seton Hall reminded us that no matter who steps on the court on any given night, if you shoot over 60% from behind the arc, the Syracuse zone is in trouble. If your team comes out and sleepwalks through the first 20 minutes of the game, odds are you won't be victorious. Whether or not the Orange can break out of this funk will be back on display this Saturday in Milwaukee. At that point in time, with backs against the wall, we shall see what kind of resolve Coach Boeheim and his boys have.

At stake right now is not who wins the next game — after all, we have games every night. At stake is whether new teams in the top 5, like San Diego State and previously unknown players like Jimmer, make long runs in this upcoming March Madness. It's whether the hard work of mid-majors like Cleveland State, St. Mary's and Utah State is rewarded. It's whether we sustain the leadership from players that have stayed in school for four years, to make sure their school is not just a place on a map, but a team to be reckoned with come March.

That basketball world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful. Kansas State was once ranked in the top 5, and now they are a few games under .500 in Big 12 play. Michigan State has struggled all season, and just dismissed one of their best players from their team. Two other teams from last year's Final Four aren't even ranked right now. We've heard about this in the frustrations of fans who've seen their wins dwindle or their team pride disappear.

The idea of the college basketball season endures. Our destiny remains those three weeks in March. And today, more than five weeks away from Selection Sunday, it's because of our love for the game of basketball and our favorite teams, that our future is hopeful, our journey of a season goes forward, and the state of Daily Onions is strong.

Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the next two months of the college basketball season. (Applause.)

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