This is from yesterday SI.com
Full Q and A after the jump.
Seriously, what's going on with the 'Cuse? I knew it was too good to be true at 18-0, but losing four straight ain't right. Can you identify this team's main issues?
-- Orange Julius, Syracuse, N.Y.
I'm assuming that Mr. Julius' first name really isn't Orange, but I admire his fealty in the midst of his team's four-game losing streak (which is about to be five, since they are playing at UConn tonight).
Obviously Syracuse has more than one issue right now, but the main one is that, in retrospect, they were never as good as we thought. Let's take a look in the rearview mirror, shall we? They beat Michigan by three points and Georgia Tech by four in Atlantic City. They beat N.C. State in the Carrier Dome by six. When they blitzed then-No. 8 Michigan State by 14 points on Dec. 7 in Madison Square Garden, the Orange looked like world beaters. Now they just look like they're 14 points better than a bubble team. The 12-point win at home over Notre Dame was impressive, but that is arguably Syracuse's only win against a definite NCAA tournament team. (We'll see how things turn out with Cincinnati and St. John's, but they both have a long way to go.)
Don't get me wrong, I don't think Syracuse is a bad team. It's a good team with some very real flaws. The biggest problem, as I've written and said many times, is a total lack of production from the center position. That has forced Jim Boeheim to play Rick Jackson in the middle of the 2-3 zone, which means the team is smaller across the board. The zone isn't stopping anyone right now, especially when it comes to keeping opponents off the foul line. (Marquette shot 33 free throws against the Orange. Villanova shot 24.) I also believe that playing against other league teams has hurt Syracuse because its opponents are taking away what the Orange do offensively -- which let's face it, ain't that hard.
As I mentioned before, I expect Syracuse to lose tonight at UConn, which would be the first five-game losing streak of Boeheim's career. But I don't think the bottom is going to completely fall out. There is too much talent on this roster, and Boeheim is too good of a coach. But it's funny how games that look great in November and December don't always look so hot in February and March. Funny, that is, unless your first name is Orange.