Syracuse Escapes

Most people would be hard pressed to find a more direct way to indirectly call out the Syracuse basketball team's junior class than Jim Boeheim did on Wednesday night. "We had three very consistent players that we lost (last year)," Boeheim said. "And we now have three very inconsistent players."

The comments came after one of the most gutsy and unlikely comebacks in Syracuse history. The Orange let a 20-point half-time over Manhattan slip away, which then turned into a 10-point deficit for Syracuse with 1:48 remaining in the ball game. Two three's by Gerry McNamara and the game tying triple by freshman Erik Devendorf pushed the thriller into overtime.


Syracuse took the lead on a Terrence Roberts tap in with less than a minute left in the overtime period, giving the Orange a lead it wouldn't lose again. Syracuse won the game 87-82.


Boeheim said although it was a great game, it never should have been that close. There was a 35-point swing from Syracuse's first half lead to its second half deficit.


"We have guys in a position that they have to consistently produce for 35 minutes," Boeheim said. "We can't do that right now, and until we can, we are going to struggle and in every game we play."


Boeheim pointed to problems with inside scoring in the second half. He said his starting big men played poorly inside when they should have dominated a physically inferior team. Manhattan's tallest starter is 6-foot-8.


"Right now our big guys are shooting jump shots from 15 feet out," Boeheim said. "Shots they can't make and have no chance to get back."


Syracuse couldn't find a rhythm on offense in the second half. The Orange was outscored by 21 points in the period. Boeheim again pointed to his junior class starters of Demetris Nichols, Terrence Roberts, and Daryll Watkins.


"We've got to get guys to understand that they're the guys, they've gotta make the plays," Boeheim said. "Guys (are saying), ‘I'm getting held or pushed.' Just too many excuses being made. We can't play that way and be effective. There's gonna be holding. There's gonna be shoving. They've gotta play through that."


Boeheim said opposing teams are going to key on McNamara late in games, so it's the junior's job to step up when that happens.


"The three games we've been tied late, we've had nobody to make a play," Boeheim said. "Florida makes plays, Bucknell makes plays. We cannot make a play."


Although Boeheim was critical of his junior's inconsistency, he did end on a positive note.


"(The inconsistency) is mainly because they're not used to being in there in absolute crunch time when things have gotta get done," Boeheim said. "The more games they get, the more minutes they get involved in, the better chance they have to play their way through that."


"I think they will, but you've got to be able to play 40 minutes, and right now we can't do that."

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