Seeing Syracuse men’s basketball on television was a welcome sight last night. The Orange crushed Brown 93-62 thanks mostly to a dominant second half keyed by a ruthless offense that put up 55 points in the final 20 minutes. However, a closer look shows a lot of the work was done by a familiar duo.
Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim have served as one of the more interesting stories this college basketball season. It’s unusual to have two brothers play on the same team, but even more so to have them playing under the watch of their own father, who just so happens to be an active Hall of Fame coach. As the Boeheim brothers go, so too do the Orange. That fact has even been parlayed into some trendy NIL-enabled merchandise.
As has been the case in most of SU’s games this season, the Boeheims were a main key in willing Syracuse to a win last night. In his 100th career game at Syracuse, Buddy scorched the Bears with 28 points on 11-19 shooting, including a 4-6 mark from deep. Jimmy backed him up with 13 points and eight rebounds. The newly-christened “Bucket Brothers” play different positions and roles, but they’re usually the primary contributors to Syracuse’s nightly efforts. Against Brown, the two combined for nearly half the team’s points.
That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. The Boeheim brothers have been fun to watch this season when they’re both on. However, the team’s already thin depth means next year’s squad – one potentially without the services of both brothers – already looks like it’s going to have a ton of question marks. The biggest among them is what the team plans to do once both brothers depart.
Jimmy is the elder of the two Boeheims and has no eligibility left as a grad student, while Buddy is a senior with a remaining year that he appears unlikely to use. If we assume Buddy chooses not to return, immediate questions arise about where the scoring will come from for SU in 2022-23. So far through 11 games, the Boeheim brothers have scored 361 of the team’s 868 points – that’s 41.6% of the team’s entire output.
The pair putting up around 40% of the team’s total seems reasonable for two of five usual starters, but consider that center Jesse Edwards usually contributes little on the offensive end and that Joe Girard and Cole Swider are mostly hot-and-cold shooters. Take the Indiana game back on November 30th as a prime example of this disparity. In that game, the Boeheims combined for 53 of the team’s 112 points on a night when Girard went 1-5 in the second half and Swider hit three total field goals in a game that went into double overtime.
Combine the team’s shooting inconsistency with a mostly invisible bench, and it’s easy to see why there’s reason for worry. Buddy Boeheim filled a scoring void when former forward Elijah Hughes departed for the NBA, but there’s no clear answer arriving in 2022 to plug the same leak. Unless SU swings an unexpected star through the transfer portal, it appears next year’s squad will be led by Girard, Edwards, Symir Torrence, and a combination of Benny Williams (if he stays) and incoming class of ‘22 freshmen. As it sits right now, that future lineup doesn’t scream “tournament caliber”, and head coach Jim Boeheim is likely well aware.
The “Boeheim Bros” show has made for exciting viewing this season, but it’s an unusual one-year phenomenon. SU doesn’t appear to have much in the way of a contingency plan for next year, and it might be time to start thinking about what they plan to do about it. As it sits right now, there are far more unanswered questions than clear answers.