Fizz 5: How Much Did Officiating Affect the Nail Biter Over UNC Asheville?

We count down 5 observations while sitting courtside in Pittsburgh.

The Fizz warned you Syracuse’s matchup against UNC Asheville had the potential to be close. We by no means thought it would be this close. There’s only one way to recap it, a Fizz 5 observations from media row in Pittsburgh:

1. Yes, the ref’s were awful – but it cut both ways. 

The officiating stunk worse than Scoop Jardine’s free throw percentage on shots in which lane violations were called. UNC Asheville coach Ed Biedenbach suggested it cost his team the game, and Bulldog players said the best team did not win. Jim Boeheim had a beautiful volley, “that’s why they invented scoreboards.” But late calls against the Bulldogs obviously hurt their chances. The two major, high-profile decisions went against UNC Asheville, but that’s not why the Bulldogs lost. And the calls weren’t as bad as many thought.

The lane violation is tough. That whistle in that spot takes extraordinary onions for the referee, but it was the right call. In college, you can’t break the lane (or in J.P. Primm’s case the 3-point line) until the ball hits the rim. If you’re dumb enough to let the ref make that call, that’s on you. Stay out of the lane and there’s no problem.

The Triche out of bounds call was wrong. However, the refs also missed Brandon being tackled. In the final minute, Dion Waiters was also tackled on the press break, resulting in an SU turnover. No call. There were missed goaltends both ways (again). It was bad both ways. If UNC Asheville thinks a perfectly called game goes its way, the Dogs are wrong.

2. James Southerland loves games like this.

Southerland was a monster during the softest parts of Syracuse’s non-conference schedule while playing teams like UNC Asheville. His big shots were essential as Southerland was the only SU playing hitting from the perimeter. He loosened the zone and swung the game for Syracuse. Southerland can expect to see more playing time if he continues to hit. He’s rebounding well and is a better defender than given credit for. If C.J. Fair remains cold, Southerland is a no-brainer. It’s a total reversal of the middle of the season when Fair never missed and Southerland couldn’t hit make a basket if his life depended on it.

3. Bad offense + missing shots = even worse offense.

Syracuse incredibly took 23 shots from beyond the arc even though they weren’t falling all day. That’s how Kentucky’s 5 first-round picks lost in the Elite 8 two years ago. Teams that survive on penetration can’t settle for bad days from outside, and that’s exactly what Syracuse did. Credit UNC-A for playing the zone well, but SU could’ve penetrated far more. Eventually the Orange figured it out in the second as Jardine, Triche and Waiters all got in the lane. But there had to be a better way to utilize Syracuse’s insane size advantage and it never happened.

Also, don’t confuse huge production from Dion with good Syracuse offense. He gets his points often when the offense goes awry. He kept SU afloat when everyone else was inept. In the second half he barely scored and the offense had better flow. Yes, Waiters is an enormous x-factor, but huge numbers from him doesn’t necessarily translate to Orange success. Boeheim stressed the need for balance after the shaky win. Remember, Waiters had 28 against Cincinnati in a loss. But he only scored in single digits when they beat the Bearcats on the road without Fab Melo mid-season.

4. Where are the senior leaders?

Kris Joseph wasn’t active, engaged, impactful nor productive. He was dreadful for most of the afternoon. Scoop wasn’t much better. Both players seemed lost against a zone they’ve played themselves their entire careers. In the 2nd half, they were better. Scoop hit a big trey early and Joseph finally realized he was taller than everyone else and crashed the offensive glass for a couple of huge plays late. Production from both is essential to this team surviving beyond Saturday.

5. Free MCW.

For the second straight game, Michael Carter-Williams didn’t make it off the bench despite Syracuse being in need of his spark. He also joked on Twitter about his lack of playing time. Is JB running the risk of losing him mentally for March? It’s baffling considering the last time we saw him on the floor against UConn he dropped 4 assists in 8 minutes. He creates shots for his teammates that others don’t. When you are shooting 2-13 from 3 in the first half, someone who can create good shots sounds like a great idea.

Posted: Craig Hoffman

8 Comments on this Post

  1. OrangeCrush22

    I also feel that JB’s decision to not get out of the 2-3 earlier or when needed will also be their demise. To win in this tourney you need to be able to throw different defensive looks during close games. I feel JB’s coaching is in question and just plain awful for a HOF coach. You just can’t wait to be down 6-8 points with 10 minutes left to swtich to a press. He has the bench utilize it.

    Agree 100% on MCW….he needs the experience of tourney play.

  2. kentucky lost in the elite 8 two years ago dumb ass

  3. Crush – This is the best zone Boeheim’s ever had. Granted that was with Melo, but no one ever says “you need multiple looks” for a team that plays man. Yes, I’d love to see this team press the hell out of K-State, but the zone is what they do best so run with that. The man’s been tremendous this year and is in the Hall of Fame for a reason.

    M&M – thank you for so kindly and eloquently pointing out our oversight. We’ll fix it asap.

  4. orangeskin

    Good point about Dion’s offensive outbursts. I am starting to think that JB is weighed down so much by all the controversy surrounding the program that it’s affecting his in game coaching. I was surprised that SU didn’t press at all yesterday, especially with the struggles against the zone, and don’t like the fact that MCW didn’t play. It was absolutely a perfect game for him to log heavy minutes. I told him as much on twitter on Wednesday because I was convinced he’d play about 15 minutes. He should play against K State and SU needs to press them. They can’t shoot that well, but they have a better half court offense than you might think. The good news is that their point guard is a freshman (although he is good) and turns it over quite a bit. Seems like the perfect game to try to speed them up a bit, and put our freshman on theirs for a while. The fact that MCW is 6’5″ should equal a lot of PT because he can shoot over off guards. Put him in with Dion or Brandon and both will get open looks. I would also like to see SU continue to throw the ball into the post. In fact, they should run plays for Rak and Baye because you know K. State is not expecting that. They are going to try to cut off Kris’ drives, prevent Scoop from penetrating, and keeping Dion out of the paint. The good news is that they are mainly a man to man team. You can’t really install zone in one day if you haven’t played it all year. UNC-A obviously practiced zone a lot this past week, but didn’t trust it enough to stick with it in crunch time. I’m glad that WVU lost because their fat, inbred redneck fans won’t be in Pittsburgh to cheer against SU. They’ll sell their ducats and go home to their doublewides.

  5. I like a lot of what you’re saying Skin, but the reason K-State won’t expect plays for Rak and Baye is because they wouldn’t work. There are better offensive options. The element of surprise is one thing. Running plays for dudes who aren’t good offensive players is another.

  6. OrangeCrush22

    Hoffman – That’s not what i meant. I dont think it’s the best zone he has ever had, but i’m speaking in terms of: No ‘Melo and when we are down points (example: Cincy in the semifinal of the BEast Tourney just knocking down 3’s) he doesnt change gears defensively. There is no ‘Melo so why not utilize your bench more with different types of pressure and defensive looks? Especially when a team is knocking down shots. Good teams learn to adjust and when you are down points or a player, you have to figure out better schemes.

    I’m personally not a fan of JB’s coaching ability and i hope he is seeing something that ‘Cuse fans dont see. But then again, what do i know. Go ‘Cuse

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