Syracuse, NY – Jim Boeheim spoke at the postgame podium for nearly 13 minutes following Syracuse basketball’s 96-76 loss to Georgia Tech on Tuesday night.
Boeheim was humble in defeat after the team’s fourth straight loss by 17 or more points and third straight game it has given up more than 90 points.
The Hall of Famer was accommodating, gracious and patient with inquiries from the assembled press. It was a complete 180 from his combative “your attitude is not good” to a student reporter a month ago.
Boeheim was outright apologetic for the stunning collapse of his trademark 2-3 zone defense.
Want to know how bad Syracuse’s defense has been?
The Orange broke out man-to-man against Georgia Tech just a few days after Boeheim emphatically stated after SU’s loss to Pittsburgh that it simply wasn’t an option.
“It’s on me,” Boeheim said Tuesday night. “That’s my defense and we’re not going to be able to stop anybody with that. That is where we are.”
There were noticeable boos chirping among the 18,522 at the Dome, and Boeheim didn’t blame them one bit.
“Our fans have been amazing all year,” Boeheim said. “I’m sorry they have to see that because this was the first time at home we just haven’t competed defensively.”
Whatever you think about Boeheim’s future tenure at the place he arrived in 1962 and never left, Tuesday night’s loss was the first time it really felt as this may be for Boeheim.
Seeing Boeheim’s storied defense shredded by some of the ACC’s top programs in Duke, Clemson and Pittsburgh was frustrating, yet understandable.
To see Georgia Tech, a team that was 257th in the country in scoring and 15th of 15 ACC teams in offensive efficiency, treat the zone like a rag doll was simply amazing.
Boeheim’s zone has always been SU’s ticket to NCAA paradise.
Here we are on March 1st and Syracuse’s defense is the reason the season is sinking like a brick.
“I don’t have an answer as to why we’re not playing better,” Boeheim said. “I really don’t. It’s on me. I don’t get them to play well enough defensively. That is the bottom line.”
Syracuse isn’t going to pull a rope and grab the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament this time around.
You’ll need to play some defense to win four straight games (and it could be five if SU gets bounced to start ACC play in Tuesday’s opening round) to pull off that miracle.
“The reality is we’re not going anywhere unless we win the (ACC) tournament, which is obviously very unlikely the way we’re playing,” Boeheim said.
Syracuse closes out the regular season on Saturday at the Dome against Wake Forest.
We will be awash in nostalgia as the 20th anniversary of the 2003 national title is celebrated and Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick get to hoist their honored jerseys.
It will be a nice distraction, but also a stinging reminder of how far Boeheim’s program has fallen.
Asked Tuesday night what his team has to play for the rest of the way, Boeheim gave the right answer, but still one that feels like a gut punch.
“Pride. You play for pride,” Boeheim said. “You get ready to play. I’ve always been impressed with teams, Georgia Tech isn’t going anywhere, they played really hard. Really good tonight. That’s what you’re going to do . Your individual pride, your team pride. We let that go today. We let down the pride we have in our team today.”
Jim Boeheim talks about playing for pride in March.
Indeed, the end is near.
The dark side
All you need to know from Tuesday’s game at the Dome is this: Georgia Tech was 18-of-40 (45%) from 3-point range.
That’s it. That’s the list.
Georgia Tech had 53 points at halftime. That’s an average of 64.8 points per match in ACC play this season.
In its four-game losing streak, Syracuse has given up an average of 90.7 points per game.
In short, Syracuse’s defense is historically bad right now.
The sunny side?
No, just no.
1. Georgia Tech nearly matched a Dome record for most 3-pointers made by an opponent. Colgate set a mark earlier this season with 19 3s.
2. Syracuse still holds a slim 9-8 advantage against Georgia Tech in the series dating back to the 1984-85 season.
3. The 96 points tied the season high for the Yellow Jackets, who beat Alabama State 96-60 on Dec. 17.
Tweet of the game
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Syracuse.com will debut a documentary film about Syracuse basketball’s 2003 NCAA championship team on March 29 at the Landmark Theatre. Tickets are on sale now. For more information, click here.
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Georgia Tech scores 53 first-half points, dominates Syracuse in Dome (Donna Ditota’s quick hit)
Jim Boeheim after Syracuse allows 90-plus points for third straight game: “That’s my defense. It’s on me’