Donna Ditota, Syracuse men’s basketball beat writer for The Post-Standard, joined us on The Juice on the Cuse podcast on Wednesday to talk about a wide range of topics including the return of James Southerland, how far Syracuse can go in the NCAA tournament and the development of Michael Gbinije.
The Juice Online: The question on every Syracuse fan’s mind right now is when James Southerland is going to return. Do you have any insight into that?
Donna Ditota: It’s always a murky situation when dealing with the NCAA. I just talked to Jim Boeheim today because I was calling him about something completely different. I’m working on a story about Rakeem Christmas, and I asked him at the end of the interview if he had anything to report about James and he said he hadn’t. That’s not to say that nothing will happen between now and the Villanova game. The thing with these situations I’ve learned in these situations over many, many years of covering these kinds of things that you don’t know, and then suddenly you know. These things sometimes oddly progress. Whereas coaches and other people, and sometimes the kid himself, won’t know for a while, then suddenly find out. These things kind of take a while, and then, who knows. In my estimation of when he’ll be back? I honestly have no great answers for you. I don’t know.
TJO: Jim Boeheim mentioned after the Cincinnati game that he’s concerned about his production from his centers. Do you share that concern?
DD: It’s interesting, because there are times when he says he doesn’t need his centers to score. He doesn’t want them to score. He doesn’t need them to score. Certainly, I think they have to be a threat. They have to present themselves inside. They have to make people believe they’re going to catch the ball and score in there. I think Rakeem is untapped. He’s got a ton of ability. They’re trying to harness the ability he has, they’re trying to focus his understanding to a better level to figure out how he’s going to play.
TJO: How is Syracuse using Michael Gbinije right now in his redshirt year?
DD: First of all, Michael Gbinije is hilarious. You’re going to love hearing from Michael Gbinije. I think he’s got a great personality and he’s got interesting things to say. He, right now, is working on the scout team. He will impersonate, for lack of a better word, other scorers or point guards, or whoever, when Syracuse does their little scouting report. He also is playing point guard. I’ve heard a lot of stuff about who is going to be Syracuse’s point guard, what will happen when Michael Carter-Williams leaves, and they’re only going to have Tyler Ennis, but he’s been working almost exclusively at point guard during practices.