Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim had his pick of scapegoats for Wednesday’s loss to sanction-ridden Connecticut.
Brandon Triche for his errant shooting. James Southerland for his drifty defense. Michael Carter-Williams for his egregious decision-making. Rakeem Christmas for his sheer lack of offensive ability. Trevor Cooney for his plodding development.
None met his liking. Instead, the sometimes outspoken, often curmudgeonly and always unpredictable hoops figurehead went off the beaten path to find his goat — down an uneasy road he’s traveled too many times before. The whipping boy? A suit-clad chap who spent the entire game from press row, pen in-hand.
ESPN reporter Andy Katz became the latest media personality to take the brunt of Boeheim’s postgame wrath for specifics largely unknown. Little more than a minute into his presser following the game, Boeheim boldly dismissed Katz, a longtime college basketball scribe whom the Syracuse coach dubbed an “idiot” and “disloyal person.” The fun starts with a seemingly innocuous question beginning at the 1:25 mark.
Paul Schrager, a senior writer at Fox Sports, is reporting Boeheim’s beef with Katz stems from how the journalist handled info regarding the former suspension of James Southerland.
Katz had reported during an ESPN telecast that Southerland was under investigation for two paragraphs he had written in a recent term paper. Busting Brackets confirmed the news last week.
Whether Boeheim has a legitimate gripe or not — the backstory behind his tiff with Katz is still fuzzy — the Orange coach weaseled his way into another indefensible PR position, as if he cares. Notorious for assailing reporters from his bully pulpit, Boeheim is never mum on issues he finds offensive or disloyal. It’s those simple, basketball-related questions that have the Syracuse caretaker stumped.
Boeheim is still without an answer for why his teams consistently cower at the free throw line — Syracuse is the only active program to shoot worse than 70-percent from the free throw line in each of the last 12 seasons. No answer yet either as to why Rakeem Christmas’ development has stalled, Trevor Cooney’s has never gotten off the ground or why a team armed with perimeter weapons ranks ninth in the Big East in 3-point shooting percentage.
Give him time and Jim Boeheim can find a bone to pick with anyone possessing a media credential. Perceived loyalty be damned.
In the meantime, Boeheim is only being unfaithful to his own fan base by continuing to deflect blame as correctable problems fester right under his nose.