Orange Watch: What’s the state of Syracuse basketball?

On the court, the 23-8 Orange will try to turn their offensive offense around starting Wednesday afternoon in New York in the final Big East Tournament go-round against a team it defeated by 11-points on the road during the regular season, either Seton Hall or South Florida.

A win Wednesday and nemesis Pittsburgh awaits 24-hours later.

Away from the games themselves there’s been a significant amount of consternation among Orange Nation over items that are being thrown around far and wide. Consider:

» More Orange Watch: Syracuse, like Big East, in free fall

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Syracuse has plenty of questions right now

  • The Yahoo! sports story that broke exactly one year ago today (not date-wise), the Monday of Big East Tournament week, highlighting the university’s self-reporting of issues related to drug testing to the NCAA. There’s been no announcement from either side in regards to that inquiry. One question: Was Fab Melo’s 2012 NCAA ineligibility related to a failed drug test?
  • The continued talk as to what the NCAA is investigating in regards to not only drug testing, but the program’s academic performance in the wake of James Sutherland’s missed six-games this season, and the hushed mid-season replacement of Stan Kissel as director of basketball operations, and its academic support responsibilities, with former Jim Boeheim assistant Tim O’Toole.
  • The recent job interview Mike Hopkins conducted with Southern California’s top two athletic administrators to fill its head coaching slot. The L.A.-area native has patiently waited to succeed his college coach, mentor, and current boss. If offered the Trojans job, we’d have to think he accepts, custom-built brand new house in the Syracuse suburbs, or not.
  • The continued speculation (with a clean break as the program moves from the Big East to the ACC), and the confusing signals he’s given, if this is indeed the end of Coach Boeheim’s Hall of Fame career. He tantalized a local beat writer earlier this season with retirement hints, and did so again this past weekend after the Georgetown game, raising eyebrows and sending the Twitter universe into a frenzy saying he was “pretty much ready to go and play golf some place.”

» Related: Mike Waters on Syracuse, Mike Hopkins

(The coach later clarified that he was joking around with his “friends” in the media, he’s not ready to announce his imminent retirement, that he hasn’t even thought about retirement while simply trying to get through this season, and that “anything’s possible” before next season.)

No matter the team’s performance the rest of this post-season, and if the shots start falling it may be a longer run than most Orange fans think today, it seems there’s going to be more significant change for the program than just conference affiliation.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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