Despite some questionable coaching tactics, Syracuse survived UNC Asheville. While many in Orange Nation barked to see Michael Carter-Williams get action, the freshman never left the bench. After the game MCW jokingly (we hope) Tweeted “I might get a shirt that says Free MCW.” The Orange looked lethargic for much of the game, guard play was far from stellar especially in the half court, and the last time we saw MCW he was dropping assists at MSG in limited minutes. So why didn’t Boeheim give him even spot duty?
Maybe it dates back to NYC. MCW can’t be thrilled with being stuck to the bench. He’s a player that is emotionally involved in the game, and always brings intensity. That’s evidenced by his run-in with Fab after the ill-conceived jumper against UConn. But MCW might have shot himself in the foot since he sat the bench after that.
Obviously it’s the NCAA Tournament and he’s green, but fellow freshman Rakeem Christmas found huge minutes yesterday (although out of necessity because of the Fab absence). With the way SU was struggling it seemed Boeheim could have found him at least a little floor time alongside the always explosive Dion, who carried the SU offense early. MCW has made legitimate contributions and it may be a mistake for JB to bury him.
This may all stem back to the UConn game. Clearly MCW is emotional, and let it get the best of him when he yelled at Boeheim and found himself on the bench for a game. The emotion can be good sometimes, but can also work against him. The concern is if Boeheim is cutting off his nose to spite his face. Is he running the risk of losing MCW both mentally and emotionally, just to teach a lesson? The freshman clearly has the talent, and could be useful in situations this March, whether running the press or giving the offense a quick spark.
Clearly Boeheim understands the need to treat his guys differently (i.e. Scoop v Triche), and he played hardball with Waiters (which was the best thing for DW in the long run). But Syracuse just barely avoided the most embarrassing loss in NCAA tourney history. It’s now or never for this weakened #1 seed. There may come another time soon when SU needs MCW, and Boeheim needs to make sure he’s focused on wearing his jersey and not a “Free MCW” t-shirt.
Posted: Alex Plavin