Syracuse had its best regular season it school history, went undefeated at home, won 17 Big East games, and was ranked either #1 or #2 in the country for the majority of the year. However, Saturday night in the TD Garden SU fell just short of completing its dream of cutting down the nets and advancing to New Orleans. Ohio State was a tough matchup for SU, especially with Fab Melo out of the equation.
What could the Orange have done better last night? Jim Boeheim hit the nail on the head. SU lost this game before halftime.
“I just thought we lost a little offensive patience in the first half. I thought we forced some shots in some situations when we should have been a little bit patient. I think our offense just hurt us tonight.”
Bingo. The offense stalled out in the first half and beginning of the second. Dion Waiters was taking it hard to the rack, drawing fouls early, but once he went to the bench with his second foul at the 7:30 mark, Syracuse only scored 6 points the rest of the half. There was too much one-on-on play and no flow in the offense. The Orange was stagnant and started to become a jump shooting team, which is not SU’s forte.
Kris Joseph never got into rhythm. K-Jo was aggressive but couldn’t buy a bucket. He went just 2-9 from the field, missed a wide open lay up and never got to the foul line in the first half. Joseph had a rough tournament all around (clanking the front end of a late 1-and-1 which could’ve cost SU the Sweet 16 game), and never seemed confident. Kris was the team’s leading scorer in the regular season and carried this team a few times on the offensive end. Unfortunately, he just didn’t show up when it mattered the most.
The Orange never took advantage of Jared Sullinger getting into early foul trouble either. Sullinger only played six minutes in the first half, and SU didn’t capitalize with him on their bench. Jared is one of the nation’s best players, and SU only outscored OSU by two with him on the pine. In the second half Sullinger proved he could score at will, putting up 15 points and getting to the charity stripe 12 times. SU couldn’t land a hard of enough punch to put the Buckeyes in an early hole.
Syracuse played decently, but allowed Ohio State get to the foul line a staggering 42 times. The refs can be partially blamed for that, but it was called all too close both ways and SU only found the stripe 25 times. It’s a disappointing way to end the season, but Syracuse has a bright future. Even if Dion and Fab leave for the NBA, the Orange has a ton of talent returning. Brandon Triche and MCW will lead the backcourt, Southerland’s role will be expanded and Christmas and Keita both had tremendous moments in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse adds All-American Dajaun Coleman, slasher Jerami Grant and redshirt three-point specialist Trevor Cooney. There’s also the possibility big man Nerlens Noel ends up in the Salt City. This one will sting for awhile, but keep your head up Orange Nation, good things are still to come.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert from Boston