Syracuse got punked by Illinois on Tuesday night. Plain and simple. The Orange were playing as a group of individuals and not as a team. Joe Girard III took just three shots and played only twenty minutes. So, not only is he not scoring, Jim Boeheim is finally realizing (like the rest of us), that if he isn’t making shots, he serves no purpose on the floor.
“He’s just not playing well and isn’t stepping up by doing anything else,” Boeheim said postgame.
Since scoring a career-high 31 points against Richmond just over a week ago at the Barclays Center in the first game of the Empire Classic, the senior has put up just nine total points in three games while shooting 2/25 from the field (eight percent). That’s not going to cut it, and when he has no confidence or any shooter has no confidence, then they are immediately a worse shooter. That’s what is going on with Girard right now and maybe a change to the starting lineup is needed.
But, aside from his struggles, the entire team was bad. Judah Mintz came back after his ejection against Bryant on Saturday to go 3/16 from the field and 3/6 from the line with four turnovers. He played way out of control and couldn’t finish either his mid-range pull-ups or at the rim all night. But, he did have that awesome poster dunk early in the first half.
The point of this piece isn’t to go through the box score and see how everyone played, no one really did anything well. Syracuse only made 15 field goals and went just 9/17 at the foul line. The point is that this is just another showcase of the lack of talent and coaching going on with Syracuse right now. The talent is better this year than in years past, but the group is so young that they don’t know how to play together and are still learning.
On offense, it does not look like the Orange run any sort of sets or plays at all, it’s just one-on-one creation or a pick-and-roll. Don’t get it twisted, the pick-and-roll game can work, but not when you turn the ball over 17 times. Boeheim is not putting his players in positions to succeed. 11 guys played in the FIRST HALF last night. How is anyone going to get better playing such limited minutes as Maliq Brown and Quadir Copeland did? They aren’t.
This has been building for many years now, and even with this influx of talent, Syracuse is still clearly a middling program that is getting national attention as a team with no direction and a coach whose age is being used against him in future recruiting cycles.
It’s nice that John Wildhack and the athletic department are retiring Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick’s jerseys on SU’s last home game of the season at the end of the 20th anniversary of the 2003 national championship team. That would be a nice moment for Boeheim to have with those players and exit stage left as well, and maybe pass the baton to McNamara as his jersey heads to the top of the Dome. Just a thought.
All we know is that Syracuse is not what it once was, and it’s going to take a lot of work to get back there, but the end of the Jim Boeheim era is not going to end well, and if the end is near, it’s already looking bleak.