During last week’s NBA Draft, former Indiana Hoosiers coach Tom Crean failed to offer a glowing review of the Syracuse Orange’s Tyler Lydon, who was picked 24th overall. Crean, who coached a top-ranked IU squad that was completely shut down by the 2-3 zone in 2013, sounded at least a little bitter while dissecting Lydon’s game:
Crean on Lydon: I don't know if you can hide him defensively. I hope it works out for him.— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) June 23, 2017
On top of the fallacy about defense (which ended up being brought up directly to Lydon at his introductory presser with the Denver Nuggets), the former Hoosier and Marquette coach also knocked the Orange forward’s shooting.
There were plenty of jokes at Crean’s expense at the time. But we had yet to hear from Jim Boeheim on the subject. That silence ended on Thursday, when he shared his feelings with Syracuse.com’s Chris Carlson.
"He's an idiot. He said he's not a good shooter. Freshman, sophomore year he shoots 40 percent from 3. That's pretty good for a young player. I think he had the best shooting statistics at the combine, I think, of all the big guys. He shoots it. That's what he does. It just shows the ignorance and not doing the work, the research, the background check. He's athletic and can do a lot of other things but he can really shoot."
Boeheim detractors will likely call this typical and overly defensive. BUT the numbers do check out here. In 34 games this past year, he hit 47.3 percent of shots from the floor, and 39.5 percent of threes. Lydon also shot nearly 84 percent from the free throw line in 2016-17.
While those numbers (other than free throws) were down slightly from his 2015-16 figures, he did play more minutes as a sophomore and was a larger focus of opposing defenses in his second year as well. He still managed to increase his scoring output and rebounding numbers year-over-year despite the small step back in shooting percentages.
Not to let a moment like this pass without making some larger points, Boeheim moved on from battering Crean and addressed the lingering critiques of Syracuse players in the NBA Draft. While Carmelo Anthony’s a superstar and future Hall of Famer, the same can’t really be said for any player drafted since him. Dion Waiters is probably the closest, and still -- that’s quite a gap between the two players in terms of accomplishments.
Syracuse has had a first-rounder in six straight drafts, which is the third-longest streak in the country right now. Boeheim uses Lydon, Malachi Richardson, Tyler Ennis, Michael Carter-Williams and Jerami Grant as proof of how the Orange program gets less-heralded recruits to the league (which is what ultimately matters if you’re enticing prospects to come play for Syracuse).
Check out Carlson’s piece for more from Jim, who decided to make the rare mid-season appearance in the offseason. We’re all better off for it.