Jim Boeheim’s curious comments about Dion Waiters’ potential dismissal from Syracuse raises a boatload of intriguing questions. Is it shortsighted to push away a player who has a huge upside and performed extremely well in the NCAA tournament? Did Dion write his own death certificate by being openly hostile with his coach during games? At the moment, though, those end up being ripple concerns – extending out from where the rock hit the water. At the point of “kerplunk,” the primary question is why does Jim Boeheim want Waiters off the team?
- Listen to a Fresh FizzCast on whether Dion’s will leave
Scholarships are renewed annually, so every player is at risk of being sent home after the end of the school year. But a source close to the situation tells The Fizz Waiters attitude combined with Boeheim’s age may be a losing equation.
“The older Boeheim gets, the less tolerant he is of (problem children). It’s why he didn’t take Selby. He also may be trying to humble DW, who probably fancies himself a ’2-and-done.’ The message could be if you stay, it’s my way. If you want to leave, toodles.”
There is no doubt, Waiters is an extraordinarily talented player who can do a little bit of everything. In the most important game of the year he shined brightest, with a game-high 18 points on a very efficient 8-of-10 shooting, in only 23 minutes of work against Marquette in the 2nd round of the tourney.
But Dion’s demeanor has always been a weakness. He has a reputation for clashing with coaching, eschewing team concepts, and ignoring the classroom. In fact, one source tells The Fizz, “DW is… a classic coddled, multi-high school AAU prodigy, who always bailed at the first sign of adversity.”
Can Boeheim be salty with his players? Sure. But as a freshman, at the end of a pitiful home blowout loss to a bottom-tier Big East team, telling your Hall of Fame coach to “f*** off” is a ridiculous display of dissidence.
Would it be better for everyone if Boeheim and Waiters coexisted peacefully? Undoubtedly. A disciplined and motivated Dion adds depth and play-making to a potential preseason top-5 team. But The Per’fesser likely sees an opportunity (maybe one of his last) at a deep March run with next year’s squad and refuses to poison it with a hard-headed sophomore who’s a headache on and off the floor.
It doesn’t hurt that incoming Michael Carter-Williams is expected to contribute immediately in the backcourt and has a reputation as a smart, dedicated, mature kid. Maybe by Boeheim’s calculation, subtracting Dion means a better locker room and adding MCW equals little talent drop-off.
Why would Boeheim run-off Waiters? Probably because he’s in the twilight of his career and has little patience for unnecessary headaches, especially ones who threaten to derail a potentially terrific team.