If Syracuse comes up short in its bid to reach the NCAA Tournament this month, coach Jim Boeheim will know who to blame.
The longtime Orange coach mocked a reporter’s height and questioned his credibility following Wednesday’s 64-54 home win over Clemson.
The victory improved Syracuse’s record to 15-8 overall – and 9-7 in the ACC — to conclude the regular season.
Matthew Gutierrez of The Athletic had written Monday that Syracuse would have been “somewhere around 17-5 overall” had reserve players Jesse Edwards and Kadary Richmond played more minutes this season.
“It’d hard to go 9-7 in this league, I think it’s a difficult league, very difficult, and I think these guys have done a great job this year. But if I’d played Jesse and Kadary, we’d probably be 22-2 now,” Boeheim said after the game. “I just didn’t see that. Couldn’t figure it out by myself after 45 years. I need a reporter to figure that out, who has never played basketball and is 5-foot-2.”
Syracuse is considered a bubble team for the 68-team NCAA Tournament, with ESPN’s Joe Lunardi listing them among his “Next Four Out.”
Gutierrez had tweeted Tuesday that he and Boeheim had discussed what he wrote earlier in the week and were “all good on this.”
Richmond is averaging 22.1 minutes per game, while Edwards has played just 7.5 minutes per appearance. They combined to score five points Wednesday against Clemson.
Last month on his radio program, Boeheim also had criticized Duke freshman Jalen Johnson’s decision to opt out of the remainder of the season in preparation for the 2021 NBA Draft.
Boeheim said Johnson has been “hurting” the Blue Devils and they were “better off” without him, drawing criticism from ESPN’s Jay Bilas, a Duke alum, among others. The 76-year-old Boeheim attempted to clarify those remarks a few days later.
“This is no dispersion, casting dispersion on Jalen Johnson,” said Boeheim, who has coached at Syracuse since 1976. “I haven’t even seen Jalen Johnson play this year, to be honest. He’s a tremendous player. Probably be a great pro.
“I just made the observation, my opinion, that I thought they played better without him in those two games. Jay Bilas said I said they’re a better team without him, permanently. I didn’t say that. I didn’t mean to say that.”