One loss to Georgetown doesn’t make a season, but that disaster on Saturday has left all of Orange Nation dazed and confused. On an afternoon that meant so much, how could Syracuse give so little? Of all the moments to come up small, to play tentatively and haphazardly, how was it in front of 35,000+ fans?
While Evil Otto’s 33 points was the individual story, it’s impossible to overlook how pathetic and toothless the offense looked for SU. Keep in mind the Orange average 74.1 points per game (second in the Big East behind only Louisville at 74.2). This squad put up 108 vs, Monmouth, 90 vs. Arkansas and Central Connecticut State, and notched 80 points 6 other times. Hell, the Orange netted 62 points outdoors. On an air craft carrier.
- MCW stunk
So how, in the season’s biggest moment, did Syracuse shoot 34% from the field and total a measly 46 points? Part of the blame clearly falls on Michael Carter-Williams. To play that erratically, to be that hesitant on putting up shots (only 2-6), was difficult to swallow. He’s the floor leader, the point guard in command of the offense and too often he seemed without a plan while approaching the offensive set.
- No depth
The front court was also disastrous. While we shouldn’t hold our breath for the entire thing to turn around when Dajuan Coleman returns, it’s nearly unfathomable to get 3 points combined from Rak Christmas and Jerami Grant (who both started). The rotation only went 8 deep Saturday, and a combined 12 minutes went to Grant and Trev Cooney (who combined for a single point). That essentially means SU played its fiercest rival, a top 15 opponent, with six guys.
- Inability to collapse on Porter
The zone defense is particularly agonizing when an opposing scorer gets hot, and SU cannot individually man him up. The 2-3 is specially about guarding a spot on the floor, not a player, So when Otto starts chucking up shots (and they’re going in), there is no ability to squeeze him on both sides with two of your best defenders. It’s an inherent flaw in the scheme, but Jim Boeheim has played the odds for 30+ years. You roll the dice the Otto Porter games are few and far between. But holding an opponent to 57 points means you had every chance to win it no matter what one player did against you.
It doesn’t get much easier tonight, having to go on the road to take on Marquette. But if the Orange have the necessary guts for a March run, it’ll show it tonight.