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first_imgNEW YORK — Syracuse played 25 games before losing last year. That was how three players in the Orange’s current rotation started off their SU playing career.But this season’s crop of newcomers, both of which are starters, competed in just two games before experiencing their first college loss.To junior guard Trevor Cooney, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.“We’re not used to losing, especially this early in the season, but I think it was good for us to not only lose but kind of get killed,” Cooney said on Friday, a day after SU’s 14-point loss to California. “You learn mostly when you lose. You don’t really learn when you’re winning.“I think it was good for us to be down and play the next game, play the next day.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textA far cry from last year’s exhilarating 25-0 start, this Orange team is the first one in 11 years to lose in the first three games of the regular season. It’s fallen out of the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time since 2009. But the SU players looked optimistically at what their loss to the Golden Bears on Thursday, and SU’s subsequent bounce-back win over Iowa on Friday, taught the team.Syracuse (3-1) will begin to employ that perspective when it reverts back to facing lower-level nonconference competition, and hosts Loyola (2-2) at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome on Tuesday.“Every game will help this team, every time they play. These games certainly helped us,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “… But we just need time — I hope it’s not too much time — to get better. And I think we can do that. There’s a lot of work to be done in these next few weeks.”Freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph said he caught himself taking in the Madison Square Garden environment too often during the first half of Thursday’s game. The next time out, he made it a point to keep his concentration on the court.He’ll have to apply that same focus when the Orange travels to raucous atmospheres like Michigan on Dec. 2, Villanova on Dec. 20, and the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments, and he knows it.With his redirected focus, Joseph picked up his assist-to-turnover ratio from Thursday to Friday. He contributed to the Orange’s improved offensive showing as it grinded out a win over Iowa a night after a listless shooting performance against Cal.“Everything’s a learning process for all of us in these games,” Joseph said. “This was a huge experience, being in such a tight situation, everybody had to rally together.”When the Orange entered last year’s NCAA tournament, six out of seven players in its crunch-time rotation had played in an NCAA tournament game before — and the outlier was “unusual” point guard Tyler Ennis, as Boeheim described him Thursday.This year’s team doesn’t have that much experience in big games.But with a more rigorous nonconference slate than SU teams of the recent past, the Orange expects to be better suited than its youth would indicate.Said junior forward Michael Gbinije: “We’re going to have a long season. We’re going to have some more close games down the road and we’ve just got to be ready for them.” Comments Published on November 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm Contact Phil: [email protected] | @PhilDAbb Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more