Syracuse Basketball: Jim Boeheim Deserves Blame for Orange’s Late-Season Flop

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Jim Boeheim has perfected the art of dismissing accountability.

Don’t ever expect to hear the Hall of Fame blame distributor slip the phrase “that’s on me.” Lest he breach his loyalty oath to his team, more specifically to his own fat ego, Boeheim is disposed to pointing the finger elsewhere. Appropriateness be damned, anyone is a candidate to become Sergeant Boeheim’s scapegoat du jour.

Central New York sports reporters are familiar with the act. The Syracuse hoops tyrant would rather chide a beat writer from the bully pulpit of his postgame press conference than discuss specific team trends, like why Syracuse is the only Division-1 program to shoot worse than 70-percent from the free throw line in each of the last 13 seasons. If only Mr. B was as critical of his own team as he is of the people who cover it.

Mar 9, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim looks on during the first half against the Georgetown Hoyas at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry, Jim, the buck stops with you this time. Quit playing hot potato.

One season removed from the finest coaching job of his career, Boeheim has back-flipped into the conversation for Big East coaching flop of the year. Surely, if Boeheim is to take credit for last year’s program-best season – and he should – he must also bear blame for this unsightly mess.

Player development, the chief responsibility of a head coach, has equated to player retardation at Syracuse this season.

Rakeem Christmas, once the second-ranked center in his high school class, is the same player today he was in his first game as a freshman. So too is James Southerland, a “Jack-em-up” Joe who hasn’t developed any other element to his game – defense, handle, court awareness, whatever – in his four years on the hill. The one-tricky pony isn’t even reliable with his one trick anymore.

Short of the underused Jerami Grant, the rookies have looked like deer caught in headlights. Red-shirt freshman Trevor Cooney hasn’t gotten off the mat while prized local product DaJuan Coleman can’t get off the bench. Only Grant of the first-year players has shown signs of a bright future. Of course, just as Jerami began breaking out – fresh off a career-high scoring performance against Notre Dame and brother Jerian – Boeheim slashed his minutes in favor of the erratic Southerland, who had returned from a lengthy suspension at the worst time.

Pat yourself on the back for committing rotation arson, coach.

Sophomore turnover king Michael Carter-Williams has visibly regressed in Big East play. A D-League talent playing under the guise of lottery hype, Carter-Williams has become the poster child for the jump-pass giveaway. He even moonlights as the league’s best bricklayer. The second-year point guard is shooting a whopping 28-percent from behind the arc this season, yet his boss curiously insists he keep shooting.

Brandon Triche, the SU golden child whom Boeheim entrusted with the keys to a championship car, never evolved into the player he had the physical tools to become. After starting at point guard on a top-ranked Syracuse team as a freshman and again as a junior, Triche, the nephew of Howard, failed to justify the preferential treatment he received since his arrival on campus.  Confidence issues played a major role in the unraveling of the senior’s career – his first season was arguably his best – and what better way to stoke those insecurities than by artificially inflating the player’s reputation (thanks, Jim).

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