Well, another year in which Syracuse exits the postseason far earlier than expected. Most years, I would be upset about it, ranting and raving away about Boehiem’s tournament failures.
I can’t bring myself to do it this year.
This year was one of the strangest in terms of expectations versus reality. Syracuse overachieved with underachieving players. With a team like that, a second round exit wasn’t too far away from what we all should have expected.
Looking at the start of the year, we were going to be led by emerging superstar Kris Joseph. As a pure inside-outside threat, he would take over the reins of Wes Johnson, becoming Syracuse’s playmaker. Dominating the inside would be emerging freshman superstar Fab Melo. Melo 2.0 would truly be a force on the inside, anchoring the 2-3 zone and exceeding all of the production Arinze Onuaku gave us.
Too bad the season went nothing like that.
There were some bright spots to the season. We won some big games — though the wins early in the year didn’t look as pretty as the season went on. We beat Georgetown and UConn. That’s always awesome for any Orange fan.
While Joseph and Melo disappointed, there were some great individual performances. The new slim Rick Jackson was a rebounding machine and the most dominant inside presence in the Big East. And ask yourself this, three years ago did you ever think that would happen?
The freshman not named Fab Melo also came on strong. CJ Fair has the makings of a great player. Southerland and Waiters both showed that given the opportunity, they can contribute.
Also, I personally have a man crush on BMK. If he develops correctly, he could be the next Hakim Warrick.
Those aren’t enough however to lead a Syracuse team to a deep tournament run.
The truth about Syracuse is that it only really succeeds in the NCAA Tournament when it has a dynamic player who can take over games. In Syracuse’s last two Final Four appearances, while the supporting cast was essential, it was Carmelo Anthony and John Wallace who were the catalysts to victory.
Kris Joseph was supposed to be that guy. He didn’t do it. I don’t think it’s entirely his fault. I think he was the default next guy in our minds. He just isn’t that type of player. He seems happy as a number two, and we are forced to be happy with that.
The role of playmaker, due to Joseph’s reluctance, fell to Scoop, primarily because he was the only one who seemed to want to be “the guy.” For all of the bad Scoop moments this season, and there were a lot of them, I can at least credit him for trying to up his game to be the man. When the game was on the line, he wanted to be our Kemba Walker.
Problem….Scoop isn’t Kemba Walker. It’s more than a consistency issue, or decision-making ability. What Walker does, just like Carmelo and John Wallace did during the great Syracuse runs, is make the players around him better. He can take the big shots but also knows how to bring the best out of his teammates.
Scoop isn’t the type of player to do that. He is a scorer in the literal sense. He scores. But on the offensive end, his presence doesn’t up anyone else’s games. Triche didn’t become a solid point guard because Scoop is on the floor. Though, Jackson’s rebounding stats probably were aided by some of Scoop’s poor decisions.
In my dreams, I want to Scoop to turn into Shelvin Mack. A player who turns it on when it matters most, can take a game into his own hands, but can involve his surrounding cast and play to their strengths.
In my dreams though, I’m also dating Blake Lively. Maybe I really shouldn’t hold my breath on that one.
As next season rolls around, with the new freshmen coming in, there is going to be a lot of excitement. I’ll hop on the bandwagon like everyone else. However, if the new go-to guy doesn’t emerge, be it a better Scoop, an aggressive Joseph or a freshman stepping up, don’t expect a deep run in the Tournament.
The team just isn’t set up for that.