Syracuse easily faces its toughest matchup of the season tonight against Ohio State. This is how it should be. There are only 8 teams left. Ohio State is a lot like Syracuse in that the Buckeyes have a lot of guys who can score and they defend very well. The difference in the two teams is how they score and how they defend.
Syracuse is as perimeter oriented as you could be. While the Orange likes to get to the rim, the entire offense is run through the guards. There are no designed post-ups. It’s almost exclusively high pick and roll and doing a multitude of things off of it. The Buckeyes want to pound inside with Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas. The goal for OSU is to get those guys as many touches as possible. If the zone collapses and they get kickout threes for William Buford, Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. then so be it, but the focus is paint touches for Sullinger.
Defensively, the Orange plays zone. Duh. Ohio State plays a tough man-to-man defense led by Aaron Craft. He’s the best on ball defender in the country and depending on who you ask might be the best on ball perimeter defender in a decade because he literally changes games on that end of the floor. He totally shuts guys off and not just shuts them out, but picks their pockets. Craft will guard whoever is hot. If Brandon Triche gets off early like he did versus Wisconsin, then look for Craft to switch on him.
The key to negating Craft is Syracuse playing into its strength – it’s depth. The Orange needs to move the ball around and not let the offense flow too heavily through one guy that Craft can then shut down. If SU can get Joseph, Jardine, Triche and Waiters all going then OSU can’t just send it’s super stopper to stall the attack. Keep the ball moving and keep all those guys in rhythm. Waiters and Triche were on the floor for SU’s big run versus Wisconsin. Look for those guys to get more run together as Boeheim certainly saw that on tape and even admitted post-game he wishes he would have played Triche more versus the Badgers.
Posted: Craig Hoffman