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Syracuse Baketball: Boeheim's Roberson Comment Underscores Depth Issues

Boeheim might be taking it out on Tyler Roberson but the problem lies with the lack of any team depth whatsoever.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As you're probably well aware, Syracuse Orange coach Jim Boeheim had some harsh words for junior Tyler Roberson following the team's loss to Pitt over the weekend.

"If I had anyone else he wouldn't play a minute. Not a minute. You watched the game. I'm not going to describe what he did out there to you."

I would have written some kind of heated response on Tyler's behalf but the truth is, I didn't think it was as bad as it sounds. It seemed like textbook Old School Jim Boeheim, trying to motivate one of his players publicly. Is it a nice thing to do? Not really. But he seems to think it works and he's got a history of improving players to back it up.

Still I wasn't surprised to see a mini-backlash given the harshness of the comment. The mothership didn't much care for it and neither did former Orange Etan Thomas.

I love Syracuse and will always love Syracuse, but this was just plain wrong. Why would a coach publicly try to crush his own player's spirit like that? I hope Tyler Roberson has some good ppl in his corner telling him to stay positive, keep working hard, reinforcing to him that he is a talented player who is very capable and ignore all negativity, even if it's coming from the head coach.

Jim Boeheim is a coach from another era and we can present plenty of reasons why his style and his way of thinking no longer works for the modern college basketball game, and yet, he's still here and he's still (mostly) winning.

The Daily Orange's Sam Blum was finally the first person to take the comments and actually analyze a flaw that they revealed. That Jim Boeheim probably doesn't actually believe the stuff Jim Boeheim says half the time.

In venting his frustrations with a lackluster Syracuse performance, he did exactly the deed that he criticizes others for doing to his team. He said time after time that playing six or seven guys didn’t impact his team, which had won 8-of-9 going into Wednesday, and then said he wished there was someone who could have replaced Roberson. He’s said that college students can play 40 minutes without a problem, then said "four games in a row and starting, I don’t know exactly the days, 10 days, it’s right in that area, I think it’s hard to do." The short rotation never mattered until it did.

Boeheim says one thing when his team is doing well, and conveniently changes his tune when SU’s fortune turns, though he has said an eighth player in the rotation would be ideal, but isn’t necessary. One day having seven rotation players is "more than enough." Then when asked about the rotation on Monday afternoon, he said "I don’t say it’s OK. I say it’s all we have."

Perhaps that's nitpicky but it reinforces something we've seen from Boeheim for a long time. If you want the truth out of him, you have to wait until the offseason. During the season, he has a tendancy to say what makes everything sound perfect if the team is winning or terrible if the team is losing. He is a man of hyperbole even if he's not up there ranting and screaming (which I'm thinking he might be once he read's Sam's piece).

The fact of the matter is that lack of depth is hurting Syracuse basktball this season and lack of depth has been the team's Achilles' Heel for some time now. Think of all the times the team lost one player to injury or suspension and everything fell apart (Arinze Onuaku, Fab Melo, James Southerland) or the times we've hopes and prayed that no one gets hurt because there is no backup option.

This year, the Orange have been playing a dangerous game of cat & mouse with depth thanks to a lack of viable big-man backups and the disappearance of Kaleb Joseph. That's the kind of problem that magnifies bad games and losing streaks. That's the kind of problem that leads to a coach calling out one of his key players publicly. That's the kind of problem that seems to keep happening around here. So maybe that's the problem to focus on.