Men’s Basketball

Fernandez: Pittsburgh game allegorical of lost Syracuse season

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Athletics

Syracuse is ii games under .500 for the first time in the Jim Boeheim era.

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PITTSBURGH — Two weeks ago, ahead of Syracuse’southward starting time matchup with Pittsburgh, head coach Jim Boeheim was asked how concerned he was that SU may not make the NCAA Tournament. He gave the motorbus-speak response: “
I’1000 concerned about playing Pittsburgh right now.”

Later on Syracuse’s

double-digit defeat to Pitt

on Tuesday, i that can be reasonably characterized as humiliating for the Orangish, Boeheim was asked a similar question. This fourth dimension, his response was more telling of the bleak hereafter for this flavor.

I’one thousand concerned about winning a game,” Boeheim said. “Are you kidding me? Practise you see annihilation that looks similar a tournament squad out there? Do you? … Nosotros’re concerned about trying to win


game. Period.”

Boeheim didn’t explicitly say it, only the odds of Syracuse making the NCAA Tournament following Tuesday’s loss dwindled to

almost nix
. Like he said, SU’south having serious issues winning singular games. There’southward yet the possibility of a phenomenon where Syracuse plays like a completely different team over its concluding 11 games, or goes on a run and wins the Atlantic Coast Briefing Tournament.

But the harsh reality is that the Pittsburgh loss pushed SU to an overall record of nine-11, the first fourth dimension that Syracuse has ever been

2 games under

.500 in Boeheim’s 46 years as head jitney. SU could very probable cease the season beneath .500 for the kickoff time since 1968 (pre-Boeheim era), too — KenPom projects Syracuse to lose half-dozen of its remaining 11 games.

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Somehow, among a season that included a

loss to Colgate

where the Orange gave up 100 points, another defeat to an underperforming rival

in Georgetown

and countless blown double-digit leads, the Orange managed to stoop even lower. This loss to Pitt was the curtain call. This loss signaled the end of Syracuse’s flavor.

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After the defeat against Pittsburgh, which entered the competition with the fewest wins in the conference, Buddy Boeheim was at a loss for words. He’south been around Syracuse’s program for his unabridged life and is playing in information technology for his quaternary season. When asked if he could wrap his caput around being 9-11, he said, “I
t sucks, information technology really sucks. I guess I just really don’t have whatever words to say, I mean as well it’s really tough.”

Buddy said this loss in particular would sting for a while. Jesse Edwards said it’s becoming harder and harder to envision Syracuse’s path back to the Tournament “when we drop ones like these.”
“We just got to take it i game at a time. I don’t think we can even think most (the Tournament),” Buddy said. “Just trying to get back to over .500 is the biggest thing.”

The Orangish were supposed to be an crime driven past first-class shooters. All 5 Syracuse starters are averaging double-digit points. Only on Tuesday, confronting Pitt’s 153rd-ranked defence, Syracuse tied a season low with 53 points, and shot thirty.2% from the field – its 2nd lowest mark of the flavour. And despite starting strong, it couldn’t consistently produce on law-breaking.

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In fact, Syracuse has struggled to put together a consistent offensive performance all flavour. Information technology’ll build a pb then lose it just every bit quickly. SU’s one of the

streakiest teams in the country
, significant information technology’s very likely to score merely likewise allow double-digit runs. It tin can’t seem to string together a complete 20 minutes on crime, permit lone a complete xl minutes.

On the defensive end, the Orange have slipped further in the rankings, currently sitting at 217th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Boeheim identified the defense as a pressing issue this flavor, and he has continuously said that SU is working to fix information technology. He even morphed his patented

2-three zone into ane-ane-iii one

at times to try and repair the defense.

All the same, besides in spurts, the adjustments haven’t worked consistently, either. Perhaps information technology’due south possible that the Hall of Fame charabanc doesn’t have the answers for how to improve the unit of measurement. Perhaps information technology can’t be done with this grouping of players.

When Boeheim blamed SU’due south “horrendous” defense afterwards its loss to Virginia on Jan. 1, he added, “Westward
e’ve done, at most, everything I know to fix information technology.” He said attempt wasn’t the event; it was positioning-related. Boeheim did have ownership, saying, “Our defence force was a disgrace and that’s on me. I’m the coach, I’m responsible for that.” But the bottom line is that the defensive issues accept persisted.

Of course, this is Syracuse, and so writing them off before February and March isn’t something to be taken lightly. Last twelvemonth, the Orange made the Tournament, winning v of their last seven games after spending most of the regular flavour exterior the NCAA Tournament bubble.

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But scraping together a run similar that isn’t as feasible this yr. SU’southward lost 11 games already, more than than all of last flavour, and it’s really only looked comfy in ane conference game — its kickoff matchup with Pittsburgh.

In the second game against Pitt, one of SU’s most winnable games, the Orange were embarrassed. It’s not November, or December or early Jan anymore — the calendar has almost flipped to Feb, only the lack of consistency persists, and then it’s too late for a once-Tournament hopeful squad.

Roshan Fernandez is a senior staff writer at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at

or on Twitter



Contact Roshan: | @Roshan_f16