The mass exodus from Syracuse basketball makes it pretty clear. Seven departed players after a Sweet 16 run screams a lack of trust in where the program is going. So when Woody Newton told the Oklahoman that he transferred to Oklahoma State because he couldn’t trust the Orange coaching staff, it’s important to ask how many other players feel like that.
We’ll never know the exact number. But a lack of trust in the locker room could mean a lack of trust in the stands. Newton appeared in just five games last year after his COVID-pause.
“It messed with me because I know that I can be out there contributing, helping my team win,” Newton said. “Games I see us losing by five points, we’re down by 20 — maybe I can change that. Who knows.”
Now, if Newton’s feelings turn out to be a motif in the program then Jim Boeheim and the entire staff are victims of circumstance. Immediate eligibility for transfers mean that SU can’t afford to develop players the same way that they have in years past. Boeheim’s “doghouse” might as well be called the transfer portal.
The Hall of Fame coach recently made the comparison to Michael Carter-Williams. The guard played just 10.3 minutes per game and scored just 2.7 points per game his freshman year. Boeheim says if transfers were immediately eligible when Carter-Williams played in 2011-2012, he likely would have transferred. Instead, he stayed another year, started all 40 of SU’s games in 2012-2013, more than quadrupled his scoring average, and won all Big-East second team honors on top of the conference’s Most Improved Player.
The point is: that’s no longer possible.
Syracuse is rarely the program that relies on freshmen. That won’t fly now that freshmen don’t need to sit and wait. If that’s enough to shake Newton’s trust, why wouldn’t it be enough to shake yours?