Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Syracuse maybe NCAA worthy, but deserves no breaks for suspension

February 15, 2016 Columns No Comments

One supposes that, in a college basketball season tossed upside down on a regular basis, it’s only fitting that this year’s NCAA Tournament is likely to include the first school to get a reward for going on probation.

Such is the case at Syracuse, where the NCAA deemed violations under coach Jim Boeheim’s watch to be so serious that it suspended him for nine games this season as part of sanctions against the school. And now, the selection committee has decided Syracuse essentially deserves extra credit for losses that occurred during those sanctions.

What a country!

The NCAA selection committee recently reiterated to multiple sources (such as here and here) that the Orange will be evaluated separately for their games with Jim Boeheim on the bench and those without. Syracuse-A and Syracuse-B. This is notable because Syracuse-B went 4-5 in games without Boeheim, but Syracuse-A is currently 14-3 when he is present.

This doesn’t mean Syracuse gets a complete pass for its five losses under Mike Hopkins. It does mean, though, that the selection committee will treat those games under Hopkins just as if the Orange had an injury, something that affected their performance negatively through nothing they had control of.

Only in college sports.

Syracuse had every bit of control over not getting sanctioned by the NCAA-it just had to follow the rules. In fact, Boeheim was cited specifically by the NCAA for failure to “promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program and did not monitor the activities of those who reported to him as they related to academics and booster involvement.”

Exact words in quotation marks.

Whatever Boeheim’s particular role was or wasn’t, or no matter how much one agrees or disagrees with the sanctions, those are the findings from the governing body that Syracuse is a willing participant under. It could even be argued the NCAA went nice. It has heard the cries of less punishment for the “innocent kids”, more punishing coaches, so it complied.

And yet, because the Orange posted a losing record without their coach on the bench-again, the result of sanctions the program earned-they deserve special consideration for extenuating circumstances?

Outrageous. And frankly, it’s frustrating this somehow seems like a bother only to us. Something so clearly wrong has generated nothing but crickets from much college basketball media. Hmmm…

(What if they were wins? Does Syracuse then get diminished in the selection process because its interim coach was winning? You know the answer to that.)

Look, we’ll say it every day of the week: the NCAA sometimes takes more flak than it deserves. Many take the shooting-fish-in-a-barrel method of blaming “the NCAA” for every problem in college sports, because it’s easier to blame a perceived bureaucracy than it is to blame individuals, or one’s alma mater, or favorite school. It wins on Twitter. It’s not an in-depth understanding of where problems really come from.

NCAA rules are made up by schools. If one doesn’t like something the NCAA is doing, they probably can blame it on the schools influencing what their association stands for.

That said, this is an NCAA selection committee decision, which means that the NCAA takes the blame. And deservedly so.

The thing is, Syracuse shouldn’t even need the help. Its overall profile right now probably makes it a reasonably safe NCAA tourney team. A 6-4 mark against the top 50 right now would look pretty good on Selection Sunday, as would just one sub-100 loss (most “bubble” teams will have more). That 2-5 road record is weak, but probably not enough to keep them out at this point.

Moreover, there is still plenty of time for the Boeheim Orange to recover from any losses by the Boeheim-less Orange. If Syracuse is an NCAA Tournament team, just beat Pittsburgh and N.C. State at home and get one or two of their three road games at Louisville, North Carolina and Florida State. A minimum of 21 wins and 7-8 top 50 wins, even with an early loss in the ACC Tournament, would almost certainly not just clinch an at-large bid, but probably a seed in the 8-10 range, maybe better.

This entire situation illustrates once again why the consideration of injuries, illnesses, suspensions or anything else related to game-to-game personnel changes in teams, needs to be eliminated from the selection criteria.

We already know the injury consideration will always be prone to favoring the most prominent injuries to the most prominent teams. Because of that and so much more, it is simply impossible for selection committee members to fairly evaluate every single injury or circumstance that went into a result.

Trying to do so results in an inane amount of subjectivity. Did Syracuse really lose to St. John’s because Jim Boeheim was out? What about the Johnnies’ Felix Balamou-the team’s top guard off the bench at the time-missing all but three minutes with an injury. If he’s healthy, maybe SJU wins by 18, not 12?

Was Mike Hopkins solely responsible for the Orange getting hammered on the glass in Madison Square Garden? If the committee is essentially putting this on Hopkins, shouldn’t it also give credit that the Cuse committed just six turnovers in that game, far below the 13.7 the Orange average in games with Boeheim on the bench?

See how ridiculous this gets, and how quickly? The best way to not worry about it is to not worry about it. ‘Evaluate the results we have, not ones we think we might’ve gotten if X, Y and Z had happened.

Syracuse may well be an NCAA Tournament team this year. In fact, if we were doing a selection now, we’d have the Orange in, and fairly easily.

Let’s not be mistaken, though. Syracuse is one team this season. Not two.

Twitter: @HoopvilleAdam
E-mail: hoopvilleadam@yahoo.com

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we break d own the national semifinals, where one game went back and forth while the other was never really a ballgame thanks to an impressive performance for the ages by the winning team.

College Basketball Tonight – March 26, 2018

March 27, 2018 by

With the Final Four all set, we look back on the regional finals and ahead to the final games of the season. We are joined along the way by veteran writer Ken Davis and Towson head coach Pat Skerry for their insights as well.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.