The Fizz spoke with Dion Waiters’ former high school coach, who admitted his former player can be a challenge for the team around him to handle. Syracuse fans can seemingly relax that Waiters says he will be returning, But one has to wonder if Jim Boeheim’s style fits Dion’s gifts well?
Burlington Life Center Academy head basketball Wilson Arroyo told The Fizz the Philly guard’s play is explosive and unpredictable, and that can be difficult to cope with.
“Dion can be a challenge to coach a lot of the times because he has the feel of the game on the court and a lot of the times it is not what the coach may feel or see. A lot of his game is instincts. He improvises and does what he thinks is right on the court, but generally speaking he tries to do what’s best for the team.”
After a Hall of Fame career Boeheim obviously takes a hard stance with what has worked for him. Having a guard who can deviate from the game plan doesn’t make for a perfect marriage with The Per’fesser. What Jim sees from the bench is probably not what Waiters sees on the court. Dion makes good decisions using his court awareness and instincts, but also can leave you scratching your head. That’s his style, and you have to take the good with the bad.
It’s important to remember, Waiters is not improvising on the court to stick it to Boeheim or openly question the game plan. He’s trying to make the team better and sometimes that’s about judgment calls. Dion simply has to learn to pick his spots when he improvises. Those are things that have to be worked out between coach and player, and last season it didn’t happen.
Boeheim’s 2-3 zone doesn’t utilize Waiters on defense either. He’s played man-to-man his entire life and has the skill set to be a lockdown defender. Dion has the quickness to stay with smaller guys and the frame to out-muscle bigger guards. Coach Arroyo also told The Fizz Dion just has to improve on applying concepts at SU, like “positioning and understanding organized team basketball at the higher levels.”
Zone defense is about positioning and playing a role as a unit, so maybe Waiters still hasn’t developed those skills yet. But Dion is the most active guard in the zone. He continually challenges shots and gets in the face of shooters. He is still learning to play in this scheme, and it takes time to understanding a style of defense that he’s never played before.
Waiters’ style of play is not ideal with the system Boeheim runs. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be effective. The talent level is there for Dion to break out and become a star. He needs to listen to Boeheim more, while Jim should guide Dion along and use his skill set to better the team. Both Waiters and Boeheim need to find some common ground and build on it.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert