In a season of lows, this one would be the lowest. A loss tonight against Boston College and this team would be the first to drop five games in a row in Jim Boeheim’s entire coaching career.
Ordinarily finding a team that is also 0-4 in Conference play, and 7-8 overall, as your opponent after dropping four straight games against quality teams would be a welcome reprieve, but Syracuse isn’t safe against anyone in the ACC this year.
The numbers tell the story. Syracuse is 233rd in the nation in scoring, 192nd in rebounding, and 70th in points allowed. They can’t score, can’t rebound, and have a hard time stopping people. That’s not exactly a recipe for success in the ACC.
Still, the Orange should win this game. And as I type this, we’ve reached a new low. The win itself won’t really mean anything. It’s the streak it could prevent that matters. When you are actively trying not to be on the wrong side of history, you know it’s a lost season.
A victory put the team at 1-4 in conference play, with Duke, Virginia, Louisville, and rematches against Pitt and UNC down the pipe. This is not going to end well. Finishing above .500 is the benchmark right now. No team in Boeheim’s history has ever finished below.
So how does a team like this stay motivated? If avoiding history is the underlying factor that leads to a few wins then so be it, but it’s going to be hard to stay hungry when you are all but counted out of the NCAA Tournament, and it’s not even the third week of January yet.
As the losses pile up, the focus will need to shift the future, right? And when it does, and guys like Tyler Lydon (who started off the season on fire, and quickly had his flames doused) and Malachi Richardson are asked to do more to speed up their development, the chances of victory will be even slimmer.
Richardson has been playing well thus far in conference play, but he’s not ready to shoulder a larger load yet. Still, a team in a rebuilding year should be inclined to give him more responsibility and see what he does with it.
Well, while most programs are used to rebuilding, Syracuse is not.
Winning year in and year out, creates a level of expectation. When this team isn’t in the Top 25 it’s disappointed. Being at the bottom of the ACC? Unfathomable.
Yet that’s where this team currently finds itself. How will Boeheim handle that, and will he change his rotation?
It’ll also be interesting to see how the players respond on a game by game basis. Will they fight to the end trying to eek out a couple of upsets, or will they just give up?
Questioning how they will go down as if it’s an inevitability? Yet another low in a season already full of them.