That was ugly.
Well, if the Big East bottom-feeding St. John Red Storm was going to beat SU for the third straight time, why not do it in historic fashion and expose all the flaws in the Orange game.
After St. John’s thoroughly whipped the hapless Orange by 33 points Wednesday night and Coach Jim Boeheim shouldered all the blame, legendary Chris Mullin made his first return trip to the Dome since his senior year with the Johnnies in 1985.
“Sometimes, you just can’t explain it,” reasoned Mullin, who, in his second year coaching at his alma mater, is trying to get his young team to believe in itself. “We shot the ball better and moved it around. We had more intensity.”
The Red Storm, in every which way possible, embarrassed their former Big East rivals. The defeat was the worst home loss for Syracuse in Dome history and the most non-conference losses for a Boeheim-coached squad in any season.
The young St. John’s squad, now at 6-7, was the superior team, by far, against the Orange. It didn’t matter losses to Delaware State, Long Island-Brooklyn and recently, a 16-point defeat to Penn State, were in the books. And it didn’t matter that Syracuse cruised to a lop-sided victory Monday against Eastern Michigan, where it seemed everything was clicking
The Orange had an opportunity to gain momentum against the Red Storm but that was quickly lost when the Red Storm easily broke down the SU zone defense, making over 50 percent of its field goals. On the other end, the Orange managed a measly 4-of-24 from outside.
SU didn’t do anything well. Only the non-conference matchup against Cornell on Tuesday is left before the schedule gets real on New Year’s Day at Boston College.
“If we don’t change, it’s going to continue,” Boeheim told the media afterwards. “I have to coach better and we have to play better.”
It was so bad that midway through the second half the desperate Dome crowd roared in disapproval at every call that didn’t go the Orange’s way.
Tyler Lydon appeared not to be bothered by the strained Achilles that prevented him from playing the second half of the blowout victory over Eastern Michigan just 48 hours earlier. While the sophomore finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, he was at a loss for words in the locker room afterwards.
“I don’t know how to forget about it,” Lydon said, after he was asked if the Christmas break will help take his mind off the game. “I think everybody in this room will think about basketball.”
Regardless, the Orange will take a few days off before the match-up with the Big Red.
“We’re going to go home and then come back and get back to work,” Boeheim said.
If the Orange can’t figure it out quickly, it will be a rocky road throughout the ACC schedule.
“They way we’re playing now, we can’t win many of those games,” he reasoned.
“Everybody goes through it,” warned Mullin, who chiseled out a Hall of Fame career in the NBA before spending a decade as an executive with the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings. “I tell the kids to keep working, and in the long run they’ll be rewarded.”
He added, “They’ve got to believe in themselves.”
Hmm. Maybe, the Orange could take that advice to heart too.