The Orange has lost three straight and dipped down to No. 17 in the AP Top 25. It has been a tough stretch of play, but SU hasn’t helped matters with lethargic effort and ugly offense. After Senior Night against the Demons, Syracuse finishes at #5 Georgetown. The Hoyas are 15-1 at home, and are on a red-hot 11-game winning streak.
A split over the next two would put SU at 11-7 in the league, good for likely the 6-seed at MSG next week. That would give the Orange a bye on Tuesday, and on to play the winner of the 11/14 Wednesday afternoon. While taking on Seton Hall, Rutgers or South Florida would seem to be a win on paper, one has to wonder where SU’s confidence is right now. Combine that with a final shot by opponent to take out the Orange as it leaves the conference, and every game will make fans sweat next week.
Right now most project SU as a 4-seed. But a loss to the Hoyas and an early exit from the B.E.T would likely put the Orange as a 5 or even 6 seed. Who would feel comfortable in the NCAA 5/12 or 6/11 matchup?
The losses against Georgetown and Louisville hammered home how tough it will be to win the Big East Tournament. The Orange looked dominant earlier this season, but at this moment there are conference foes who happen to be better. After the loss on Saturday, Jim Boeheim made puzzling statements.
Boeheim is a Hall of Fame coach. He knows exactly what he is saying and doing. He said he likes this team. Right now it has to be hard to like this team. Syracuse is lacking a talented and reliable big man to grab rebounds. Rakeem Christmas, Baye Keita and DaJuan Coleman have contributed to a soft team in the front court that lacks toughness to battle for rebounds.
All three need to find a way to be tougher and more aggressive down low both on offense and defense, so opponents can’t take advantage so easily. Boeheim also addressed his concerns with Brandon Triche. The senior needs a big game tonight as much as anyone. If Triche can put up big numbers against DePaul, it might be a big enough confidence boost for him to pick up and lead this team for the rest of the way. Shooting 2-for-11 and turning the ball over seven times is a matter of both not being effective and hurting his team.
The key to a turnaround is fixing this array of missed shots. It’s leading to rebounds the big men aren’t grabbing, meaning the opponents have taken it up court quickly, and scoring.
To the Syracuse men’s basketball team: it’s March. Time is ticking. Senior Night should be special for Triche and James Southerland. There will be plenty of fireworks against a DePaul team that’s last in the league with just two conference wins. Let’s just hope tonight isn’t the last smiles we see for the season.
Posted: Austin Pollack