Wednesday afternoon, Jim and Buddy Boeheim spoke to the media ahead of Saturday night’s Sweet 16 matchup against Houston. Here are the key takeaways.
Syracuse has come a long way
Step back in the time machine for a moment to Feb. 27. The Orange had just lost a critical Quadrant 1 game matchup on the road to Georgia Tech, dropping them to 13-8 overall and 7-7 in conference.
At the time, there was little evidence to support the Orange passing the eye test of an NCAA Tournament team, nor did SU have the resume for it.
But the Orange revived its hopes with a three-game winning streak, topping North Carolina, Clemson and NC State for Quadrant 2 wins, which allowed them to sneak into the Tournament as an 11-seed. And for the third time in the past five (playable) seasons, the Orange is again in the Sweet 16 as a double-digit seed.
“I’m really happy for these guys to put the work in, go through the ups and downs of this season,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I’m really happy for them and what they’ve done.”
Jim Boeheim heard the rumblings and read the press clippings. But those were mostly an aberration among the Orange fan base.
“The vast majority of people are very supportive of us and everything we’ve done, supportive of our teams,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have the support we have in Syracuse… I’m very thankful for that.”
Buddy has emerged as an NBA prospect
Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim has always been known as a shooter. For his career, he’s a 37.5 percent 3-point shooter, and this year, he’s shooting 39.6 percent from beyond the arc despite starting the season hovering around 25 percent.
During the four postseason games Buddy Boeheim has played in, he’s averaging 28.2 ppg on 55.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
“Since I was a kid, I always dreamed about playing Syracuse, playing in March,” Buddy Boeheim said. “I never really dreamed about being out there on the court. I hoped it would happen.”
Not only is it happening, the rest of the country, and NBA scouts, are noticing.
Multiple sources have confirmed Buddy Boeheim has begun to get NBA prospect buzz around his name.
“It’s crazy to me, to be honest (to be an NBA draft prospect),” Buddy Boeheim said. “I never thought of being in this position. There’s a lot of things to work on. Even shooting the ball.”
Braswell beginning to shine
The emergence of Buddy Boeheim has coincided with another player beginning to find his rhythm: Robert Braswell.
The junior forward played sparingly in his first two years at Syracuse, and missed most of the 2019-20 season with a leg injury. But over his past four games, he has become a critical piece of SU’s rotation.
During that stretch, he’s averaged 25.5 minutes per game, and has provided timely shooting, hitting 63.6 percent of his shots while averaging 9.2 points. At 6’7″, he provides greater length in SU’s vaunted 2-3 zone than starter Alan Griffin (6’5″), and has showed a greater understanding of Syracuse’s offensive philosophy.
“Robert plays our defense better than Alan,” Jim Boeheim said. “He’s obviously bigger, longer. On offense, he helps us with our ball movement. He doesn’t stop the ball.”
Jim Boeheim added that Braswell continues to play through pain in his legs, which has limited his ceiling. But he’s more than made up for the struggles of Griffin, who’s only averaging 1.5 ppg in 12.6 minutes over his past three games.
“(Braswell is) the most well-liked kid on the team by a mile,” Jim Boeheim said. “He’s a quiet kid. You just like having guys like Robert Braswell on your team.”