The Big East Tournament gets underway on Tuesday with Syracuse awaiting their first opponent. They will see either Seton Hall or South Florida who both should scare Orange fans in their own way. Then again, any game they play nowadays should scare their fans. There’s a lot not to like about the vibe surrounding the school right now.
First off, the coach is not helping things out. Jim Boeheim has acted like the old man who wants the kids out of his backyard in post-game pressers. Boeheim has said multiple things that you just don’t hear from coaches without issues right now. The latest came after the loss to Georgetown: “I’m pretty much ready to go play golf someplace,” he said. “If I was 40 years old, I would be real upset. I’m not 40 years old. That should be obvious.”
This combined with the odd tweet from the official school account citing a report that the school is asking Boeheim to retire makes people wonder what really is going on. Then you add the reports that heralded assistant Mike Hopkins interviewed with USC and things become even weirder.
The players can swear up and down that none of this bothers them, but it’s hard not to think it does. The woeful offense has been held under 60 in three of their last five games. One would think that the return of James Southerland would have sent this team to higher heights, but it has not. Few have made this point, but the team was 4-2 when Southerland was out and Jerami Grant got more time. Grant scored double digits in four of those games and has scored just 19 points in nine games since.
The team’s heart and soul Brandon Triche is also on a major slump right now. Since the win over Seton Hall, Triche is shooting 20 of 62 and has not made a three-point basket in his last four games. It would be okay if Triche was at least setting others up, but he’s got a turnover issue too. The guard has racked up 17 fouls in his last five games so his defense is being affected too.
We haven’t even gotten to the fact that their center position is basically useless. They have three options and none are very good offensively. Rakeem Christmas at least contributes blocks, but this needs points. A short term fix, as far as I’m concerned, is to use Grant at the five and go with Grant, Southerland, Triche, Michael Carter-Williams and CJ Fair. Size is an issue, but they will be a quick unit who can score.
Ultimately, this is a talented team. Despite the losses, the potential is there for something good to happen. If Coach Boeheim can rally the troops, they can win a game or two. If not, the last season in the Big East will be a bit of a failure.