Boeheim Sounds Off

Syracuse's 45-point effort Saturday night at the Carrier Dome against No. 8 Pittsburgh was ugly. Real ugly. The fewest points for Syracuse in 36 years and the fewest ever at the Carrier Dome had reporters asking what is wrong with the Orangemen. The answer is a lot and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, sounding off on a few of his players at the post-game press conference, had some answers of his own.<br><br>

Boeheim began by criticizing his team's physical play and lack of rebounding, a 50-36 advantage for Pitt.

"The sad thing tonight is our defense was as good as it's been all year long and we just didn't rebound," Boeheim said. "We didn't rebound well enough on either end."

He said other teams in the last few games (Missouri, Seton Hall and now Pitt) have been too physical and the Orangemen didn't respond well.

Boeheim then continued pointing out what has been wrong with the Orangemen during the two-game losing skid, after a 13-game winning streak.

First on his hit list was his point guard, Billy Edelin.

"Billy had opportunities to get loose balls and he just didn't make hustle plays," Boeheim said.

He stressed that the entire team lacked hustle and didn't get after loose balls, but singled out Edelin for being lethargic.

Next on Boeheim's list of things that went wrong was the need for another offensive threat besides Hakim Warrick.

"Two games in a row we've gone to Hak too much," Boeheim said. "We're asking him to do a lot down there and we need to get another option."

Warrick scored 16 points, but shot just 6-for-15 and struggled early to get going. Gerry McNamara, Syracuse's usual other offensive threat, was hobbled by a groin injury that Boeheim said was an obvious factor in the loss.

"When you don't practice," Boeheim said, "I haven't seen a player yet with a pulled muscle who hasn't struggled."

McNamara scored just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, all pretty good looks at the basket. He came in averaging 17.1 points per game.

In fact, the entire Syracuse offense shot poorly, 27.3 percent on 15-of-55 shooting for the game, by far their worst shooting performance this season.

The reason? "(Pitt's) too strong right now for us," Boeheim said, "And just too experienced-the guys who can shoot aren't ready yet to play in this league."

Boeheim was referring to his freshmen Louie McCroskey and Demetris Nichols who, besides McNamara, are the two best shooters on Syracuse.

"Maybe they won't be so anxious to think they should be playing more," Boeheim said after giving three of his freshmen significant minutes.

Darryl Watkins, Nichols, and McCroskey combined to play 50 minutes, after averaging 25.4 minutes combined all season. It resulted in a combined 2-for-14 shooting effort from the field and 3-for-11 from the free throw line for a total of nine points. Watkins had four blocks, the only bright spot, but missed all three of his shots and all four of his free throws.

"Hopefully our young guys will learn from this," Boeheim said. "Our veterans are going to have to pull the weight this year."

Speaking of veterans, one reporter asked why senior center Jeremy McNeil did not play against Pitt.

Boeheim responded, "Watch the first 15 games."

McNeil, the one player big enough and strong enough to keep up with the toughness the Orangemen have been facing, is obviously in Boeheim's doghouse.

Bad timing considering the need for physical play has been the number one problem for the Orangemen during the last two losses.

"Loose ball situations dug us a big hole and we didn't finish inside," Boeheim said. "It gets more physical after this and I'm disappointed how we've handled these two games as far as physical play."

So what's the answer? Not the weight room.

"Craig (Forth) is 7-feet tall and weighs 260 pounds," Boeheim said. "Billy (Edelin) is 210 pounds. Mentally we weren't very fit."

From here the Orangemen will head back to work, practicing and trying to fix what's wrong with their play. The key is mental toughness and physical play; without it, another 20-win season for Boeheim might be in jeopardy.

Cuse Nation Top Stories