What Happened to Syracuse Basketball?
What has happened to the Syracuse basketball team this season? Last night the Orange suffered a 93-60 loss to St. John's at the Carrier Dome. The thirty three point margin of defeat was the largest suffered under a Syracuse team ever in the forty one years that Jim Boheim has served as the program's head coach. The Red Storm entered the game with just a 5-7 record on the season including a loss to Delaware State and a sixteen point loss to Penn State. Months before the season Coach Boeheim had called this year's team "one of the most talented teams we have had in years" So what has happened?
The Orange currently sit at 7-6 on the season. Not only are they not considered a potential NCAA tournament team but if the season ended today this team would not even be considered an NCAA tournament "bubble" team. This is just a season removed from the program reaching a Final Four as a double digit seed. Syracuse's struggles can not solely be blamed on one individual or one weakness on the team.
The biggest problem I have noticed on this year's team is their lack of understanding how to play the 2-3 zone. Coach Boeheim has become the most popular and most successful coach in running this defensive scheme. This year's team no doubt has talent but, whatever the reasons maybe (lack of familiarity, miscommunication, lack of speed and urgency) the 2-3 zone defense this year has been one of the worst Syracuse fans have seen in arguably decades. Many supporters will question whether this particular set of players would benefit from playing man to man defense. I highly doubt a coach who is in the Basketball Hall of Fame will consider changing the team's defensive scheme before conference play.
Others have pointed to the team's lack of chemistry for the early season woes. During the off season, both basketball analysts and Orange fans believed the addition of transfers Andrew White III and John Gillon could be huge boosts to the roster. Both fifth seniors have had flashes of good performances but their styles of play combined with first year players like Tyus Battle, Taurean Thompson and sophomore Tyler Lydon has just not meshed. Last year the Orange were able to form contributions from players like Frank Howard and Tyler Roberson into victories. Instead both players have seen their playing time decreased by Coach Boeheim in the season. Can the Orange improve? Or will it be too little too late for their NCAA tournament hopes? Plus what do you believe are some of the biggest reasons why Syracuse basketball is struggling this season. Let us know your thoughts.