It seemed like season with so much promise and it has turned into somewhat of a nightmare. After starting 6-0, the Orange are 4-6 in its last ten games, including a crushing 0-3 start in conference play with road losses to Pitt and Miami and a home loss to Clemson. So why has the season taken a complete 180?
Jim Boeheim’s Suspension
This is not an anti-Mike Hopkins comment. He said numerous times that he was “sticking to the script” and though he went 4-5 in his 9 games in charge, he ran the team exactly as one would expect Jim Boeheim to run the team. The timing and nature of the altered suspension, however, was pretty much as disastrous as it could be. Syracuse was coming off a crushing home loss to Wisconsin and preparing for arch-rival Georgetown. Then, Syracuse lost its coach. It is very easy to point to the Georgetown game as the moment when things began to unravel for the Orange. Obviously, Syracuse has had ample time to adjust to losing Boeheim but, one can argue, that the spontaneous suspension throw everything off and set the Orange on its current trajectory.
Lack of a Real Point Guard
This is something that the hindered the Orange last season and has absolutely cost them games this season. With the struggles of Kaleb Joseph, Syracuse, both last season and this, has turned to Michael Gbinije to run the point. While Gbinije is a great ball-handler, he is not a point guard. While it seemed like he would be able to play the position well enough at first, the fact that he is natuarlly a forward is beginning to cost the Orange. (He should be said, however, that Gbinije has been Syracuse’s best player for the past two seasons and it is unfair to place the blame on his shoulders. Syracuse’s lack of depth is to blame.) Far too often, the Orange don’t really run anything that resembles a play on offense. Gbinije dribbles the ball up and Syracuse proceeds to pass the ball around the perimeter and eventually heaves a shot with little time left on the shot clock. This is something that the Orange will have tremendous difficulty overcoming the rest of the season.
The list could, of course, be more expansive. The Orange have certainly suffered from the lack of a big man. DaJaun Coleman has certainly not been the player that he was or what Syracuse fans hoped he would be. The Orange, have once again, struggled tremendously from the free-throw line and have been completely dominated on the glass, which some people argue is down to the 2-3 zone. Syracuse desperately needs a turnaround this season and the perfect time to do it would be in Boeheim’s return, against number 6 UNC at the Carrier Dome.