Schneidman: Syracuse men’s basketball has reached a new low

first_img Published on December 22, 2016 at 11:53 am Facebook Twitter Google+ This wasn’t supposed to happen, at least by Jim Boeheim’s estimation.Before the season, the head coach told ESPN’s Andy Katz that this Syracuse team was the best he’s had in a while. A bench far deeper than in recent years. Two graduate transfers that brought an offensive spark. A returning sophomore projected as a first-round draft pick in 2017.Not only has the Orange (7-5) plummeted so far from those projections that Boeheim is calling his offense “not very good” and his defense “horrible,” but Syracuse has redefined how bad it can be this early in a season.A loss to Connecticut at Madison Square Garden was cringe-worthy, but one defeat to an inferior old Big East Conference opponent could be excused. Strike one.A defeat at home against a lesser Georgetown team was worse, but Syracuse teams had lost four nonconference games and still been within earshot of NCAA Tournament selection before. Strike two.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThen there was Wednesday night. A 33-point humiliation at the hands of St. John’s, a team already with inexcusable losses to Delaware State and LIU Brooklyn. A team without two players who combined for 32 points against Syracuse last year. A team that had as many wins against SU under head coach Chris Mullin as it did against the entire Big East (one, in 19 games). Strike three.This was the biggest margin of defeat for Syracuse in Carrier Dome history.This is the first time in program history Syracuse has lost five nonconference games.This is a new low for Syracuse basketball.“This is on me,” Boeheim, SU’s head coach, said after the game. “It’s not on the players.”“When you say that, I’m kind of surprised,” one reporter said, “because you know what you’re doing.”Then comes a concerning answer, one that shows this isn’t just about players flipping on a switch and all of a sudden returning Syracuse to a team that can hang with the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best, let alone one that was the third-to-last team standing in the entire country last season.“Nope,” Boeheim said. “I don’t think I am with this team.”Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo EditorSixteen times after Wednesday’s game, Boeheim used a first-person pronoun to assess blame for Syracuse’s struggles. Not once did he utter the first or last name of a player, which he had done throughout the first 11 games. Tyus Battle seeming lost against South Carolina. Tyler Lydon needing to shoot more against Connecticut. Frank Howard needing to simply be better after committing six turnovers against Georgetown.If a head coach in his 41st year is telling us that he doesn’t know what he’s doing with this team, then that’s cause for concern, even if his top scorer, Andrew White, says, “It’s more on us. We know how to play basketball.”The previous low for Syracuse basketball was just two years ago. All the off-court chaos pertaining to the NCAA investigation aside, the Orange lost four nonconference games for the second time in 35 years. Those losses, however, came to a respectable California team, a then-No. 17 Michigan team, a St. John’s team that was 5-1 entering the Carrier Dome and a then-No. 7, undefeated Villanova team.Still, SU presumably would’ve been within sniffing distance of the NCAA Tournament after finishing 9-9 in the ACC and 18-13 overall, tied for most losses before the NCAA Tournament since Roy Danforth’s 9-16 regular season in 1968-69 (discount any season before the 70s in considering “lows” since Syracuse hadn’t yet established itself as a household name). And who knows if Syracuse would’ve won any of the six games it lost after self-imposing a postseason ban if SU had a postseason to play for?Lucy Naland | Presentation DirectorThis year, though, a stacked ACC with six teams currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 and three others receiving votes poses a far more terrifying gauntlet for a Syracuse team that probably needs a couple of wins against No. 5 Duke, No. 8 North Carolina, No. 10 Louisville and No. 12 Virginia to simply put its name back into tournament consideration. And Boeheim knows, for the time being, the road ahead doesn’t look too promising.“The way we’re playing right now,” he said, “we can’t win many of those games.”It’s not just the record that stands out as to why Syracuse has reached new depths. It’s the three wide-open St. John’s dunks in a 70-second span that made it seem like the zone gave up. It’s allowing points on six straight possessions when the game is already out of reach. It’s your starting shooting guard, John Gillon, saying the team has no heart.The season started with Boeheim having sky-high expectations. Then his team started playing, and those expectations were tempered. Played some more, and the expectations took a nosedive.This team has hit the floor with a thud and is threatening to dig even deeper into the ground. Reality has set in, and the fact is that Syracuse simply isn’t very good. Commentslast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *