Syracuse is on extremely thin ice right now. After three straight losses and a string of embarrassing press conference moments, Jim Boeheim’s seat may be the hottest it’s ever been, and he’s getting national attention all around the college basketball landscape. It’s been said many times, but some people decide to get out of the spotlight early and retire when they’re still beloved (Jay Wright), or you stick around long enough to become the villain, including to your fans, and that’s what Boeheim is doing.
Syracuse’s play on the court has not been that bad. Yes, there are moments where frustration among supporters is mounting, such as the Orange’s inability to close games that are tight down the stretch. That’s indicative of a young team, which this group is. SU does not have a bonafide closer to get you a bucket in the last three minutes of a game because of the relative inexperience of the roster either in age or experience as a leader.
Joe Girard III is a bucket-getter, but this is the first season he’s been a top option, and when the other team’s best defender is on you every game, that makes life extremely difficult, especially when you aren’t the most athletic guy on the floor. Judah Mintz just isn’t there yet to close games, he has so much learning to do, specifically staying under control. His ability to get to the basket is unmatched, but being able to finish and pass under close circumstances without committing an offensive foul or turning the ball over is something to work on.
It is hard to simulate these moments in practice, and who knows if Syracuse does, because all Boeheim does is talk about practice but never let anyone watch it, but that would seem to be a good thing to work on considering the endings of the Bryant, St. Johns, Miami, North Carolina, and Virginia games. That’s five games the Orange could have won and didn’t, which is why the NCAA Tournament is all but a fantasy at this point.
So that brings us to Saturday, where Syracuse faces a Boston College team that it has dominated over the last eight years. The Orange have beaten the Eagles nine straight times, and 15 of the last 17. But, BC is coming off an upset home win over a ranked Clemson team that’s currently first in the ACC standings, putting SU on alert for Saturday.
If Syracuse were to lose to Boston College for the first time since February 2018, nearly five years ago, it would mark an embarrassment to the program, and signal fully that the Orange are done for now, and a significant change is needed. The team has players that need to be coached and developed, and if there isn’t progress over this final month of the season, then maybe a leadership change is in order.
Jim Boeheim coaching his final game in the Dome as Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick’s numbers get retired on March 4th against Wake Forest makes a whole lot of sense, but who knows if his “ironclad” plan has that in the cards, or if bad results over the next 30 days will force John Wildhack’s hand. That remains to be seen.