Syracuse has had one of its most distracting seasons off the court. It’s also having one of its most successful on it.
SU head coach Jim Boeheim insists one doesn’t affect the other. It’s hard to argue with him, considering that the Orange won its 31st game of the season, a 58-55 win over Connecticut.
“This doesn’t bother our players or our team or me,” Boeheim said. “None of this. This is a media thing, period. If things were bothering us we wouldn’t be 31 and 1.”
The latest of three major off the court stories this season was a Yahoo! Sports report released on Wednesday, stating that over the past ten years, several Syracuse basketball players had failed drug tests.
Syracuse immediately released a statement after the report was published, stating that none of the current players on the team were being investigated.
Boeheim said that the tests had been self-reported five years ago, and it was a non issue for his team.
“We come ready to play,” Boeheim said. “Everybody gets bothered. Everybody has problems. I’m much more concerned about my wife being mad at me than I am anything else, to tell you the truth.”
His players feel the same way.
“At the end of the day, there’s one goal in mind—to win a championship,” guard Dion Waiters said. “You can’t worry about all of the negative stuff. If you start worrying about the negative stuff, it can get to the team. We block everything out.”
The other two stories involved a child molestation scandal with former assistant coach Bernie Fine, and an academic issue with center Fab Melo.
Fine was eventually dismissed from the University, but no criminal charges have been filed. Meanwhile, Melo missed three games during the regular season and has since returned to the team.
“There’s been a lot of off the court issues, but we’ve basically (done) what we needed to do,” forward James Southerland said. “It’s not going to stop us from winning games. It’s not going to affect the way we play.”