"The last play of the game, we defended it,’’ Boeheim said. "Sometimes we foul. We’re such a small lineup, I’m worried about fouling with 13 or 12 seconds on it. I think we’re going to have trouble getting the rebound. I thought we defended it well.’’
Jim Boeheim became the head coach at Syracuse the year before I was born. He has won 908 games in his career, more than all but one Division I men's basketball coach in history. So he's experienced, accomplished and generally great at his job. And yet he still hasn't learned -- just like so many other coaches haven't learned -- that refusing to foul when ahead by three points late is stubborn, silly and (at times) costly. Seriously, why is this still a debate?
I have more than 900 fewer wins than Jim Boeheim, but that sequence was atrocious. If you want to argue not fouling before the first three, it's marginal with 10 seconds left, but you have to at least make the look tougher than it was. Everything after that was really suboptimal from a win-expectancy standpoint, and the Orange paid the price in overtime. Not having the awareness to foul Yarou was the backbreaking mistake. The zone had collapsed and the kickout was available.
For some reason the debate still exists whether teams up three should foul late to prevent a game-tying three-pointer. To us, this argument seems as pointless as claiming Earth is flat. Just because we can perceive of ways fouling late can backfire does not mean that strategy should not be used; the reality is that a team's probability of losing increases fourfold if they don't foul.
"I tried to walk off real quick," said SU forward Rakeem Christmas. "Fans were excited they won. I got out of the way." Said SU guard Trevor Cooney: "I was right in the middle of it, toward the basket when everyone was running."
"Jerami was great in the second half," Carter-Williams said. "He ended up fouling out the game, which is tough. He’s a great lift for our team and we’re going to need him."
Don’t go blaming the free throws. That is a cop out. What the Syracuse men’s basketball team got on Saturday in the 75-71 overtime loss at Villanova was a nice, sour, needed - heck a required - dose of humility.
"I still think we should’ve won with the guys we have,’’ Syracuse sophomore Michael Carter-Williams said. "We have great players on this team. Of course, James would’ve helped us. He would’ve spread out the floor. He probably would’ve got some threes off for us.’’
"It’s tough," Carter-Williams said. "Of course, if I could go back, I’d love to make those free throws. Just a learning experience for next time. And next game, if it comes down to it, I’d want to take those free throws again."
Syracuse might want to scrub Philadelphia teams from the schedule. In December, a loss to Temple. On Saturday, a loss to Villanova.
"I never think the game’s over," Fair said. "I knew we had a shot at coming back and winning this game, but it just didn’t go our way."
"What a week for us," the coach exhaled. "We played really well and you can just see why Syracuse is a team that can win the National Championship, because they don't go away, they just keep coming and coming. They made so many adjustments . . . I don't need to get into it, it's just why Jim Boeheim is a hall of fame coach."
It’s been clear since the day he was ruled ineligible, but now it’s more evident than ever. The Orange needs Southerland back to provide and offensive spark. The offense has been one-dimensional and inconsistent without Southerland and has put pressure on other players to play more minutes than ever before. CJ Fair has played the entire game in his last three games.
SU's won 2 close games in the past week against Louisville and Cincinnati. But against Villanova, the Orange's luck ran out in overtime. CitrusTV's Mark Sell has more on what went wrong for the 'Cuse in the final seconds of regulation.