Jim Boeheim is being vague on Dion Waiters alleged insurrection and in damage control mode following the worst loss in 5 years on the Hill. Hey, who can blame him? The disaster against Seton Hall was punctuated by the report that Waiters responded to The Per’fesser with a big, fat “f*&k off” nearing the end of the blowout loss. Orange Nation murmured the ‘Cuse had quit during that game, as a bad Pirates squad extended a double-digit lead into a laugher. Just another episode of drama in a season which has already seen its fair share.
So, when the King of all CNY Media, Brent Axe, chopped up both of these stories on Wednesday’s show, Jimmy decided to respond. In an interview with Fizz Friend Axe Man on the Score 1260, Boeheim was incredibly vague (even by his standards) about Waiters’ future.
“Whenever we have any announcement about one of our players, we will make an official release and everybody will know at the exact same time.”
Axe followed up, “Okay, so he will be there Saturday against Marquette?”
“I think I just said what I needed to say.”
Dion was at practice yesterday, so for now he remains part of the team. Whether he plays against the Eagles is clearly not definitive. Did Waiters toss an f-bomb towards coach?
“Never happened. Did not happen. He said nothing to me directly, ever. Whether he said something when I was walking away, I can’t hear things behind my back. My hearing isn’t that good. But he said nothing to me, I said a lot to him. He responds, players are free to respond. He thought he was trying to do what we were trying to get done.”
Here’s what the Axeman wrote in his Syracuse.com recap following the game.
“Obviously, Dion Waiters was in a long line of players struggling in this game. There was a point in the first half where Jim Boeheim was coaching him on the sideline. Waiters didn’t like one particular thing Boeheim said and told him what appeared to be “*bleep* off” (F word) as Boeheim walked away.
I’m not a professional lip reader, but that one was not hard to figure out. Boeheim looked back at him after the outburst and even let a small smile appear on his face. A smile that was anything but amusing from the head coach.”
Sift through the semantics and accept Boeheim can’t simply come out and admit a player (let alone a freshman) was publicly hostile toward him. Note The Per’fesser admitting Dion responded and was free to do so. Worth reminding everyone Boehiem also began the interview by applauding Axe for his breakdown of the game on the prior show.
Had Axe been totally off base, Boeheim would have used his normal tact: belittling and dismissing a report. Doubtful he would have called to respond to the rumors nor started by complimenting the media member.
The Orange did quit. But on the game, not their coach. SU was being embarrassed by a team it had no business losing to, and its effort went south in the 2nd half. This, of course, is what happens to any team when it’s getting blown out. Is intensity ever going to match tie ball game, 2:00 to go, when you’re down by 25 with 5:00 to play?
Fans and media have a tough time deciphering between quitting on a game and bailing on a team. The Orange players – on the whole – mentally checked out of that game. Does this mean SU has tuned out its coach, buried effort for the remainder of the season or decided not to show up for practice? Of course not.
Had Waiters never said anything questionable and Axe was creating a situation out of thin air, Boeheim would have dismissed and attacked the very idea of a player tossing an expletive at a coach. Axe’s rep stands before him. Not his style. So, The Per’fesser is forced into manipulating the grey area in an effort to steady the ship.
Dion said something. Boeheim knows it. But the reason he’s a Hall of Famer is understanding 19-year-old tempers in the heat of the moment and how to address combustible situations. In this case, he threw a wet blanket over it. Dion is still on this team. What his standing is within it? That’s a whole different discussion.