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Fizz 5: Boeheim Challenges Team on Senior Night About Its Heart

Syracuse gets the easy win over DePaul as expected, the last of its kind against a team whose nickname begins with “B-L-U-E  D-E…” (there’s a team in the ACC fitting that description). Here’s our Fizz 5takeaways from the victory.

  • Lack of Offensive Fluidity

It ended up being a 21-point blowout, but for large portions of the game, especially in the first half, there still wasn’t a lot of rhythm moving the ball. Michael Carter-Williams had a solid day, but the SU start against an 11-18 DePaul squad won’t fly against Georgetown. Jim Boeheim called the first ten minutes stagnant, and C.J. Fair echoed to The Fizz the Orange played “laid back” on both sides. Syracuse only amassed ten assists as a team (and only 8 against the Hoyas two weeks ago), and it took 16 minutes to grab a lead and sustain it. SU must get off to a hotter start against Georgetown. A double-bye in the Big East Tournament is on the line.

  • Stuck in the Deep Shot Doldrums
If Syracuse was ever going to shoot the three-ball well this would have been the game. DePaul allows its opponents to shoot 46% from the field and 36% from downtown. Yet the Orange still had zero success from beyond the arc, as has been the case most of the season. Even James Southerland (typically SU’s lone viable long range option) struggled from deep during his final performance in the Carrier Dome, shooting 1-10 from three-point range. Southerland did go a ridiculous 11-11 from the foul line, en route to a double-double with 22 points and 10 boards. Brandon Triche shot 0-2 on three-pointers, and it would still be nice for him to find his shooting stroke. But Syracuse will need to find other ways to score besides the three. Minus Southerland and occasionally Fair, SU should probably stop from shooting threes.

  • Rak Can be Physical

Yes, It’s true. We saw it. Christmas got off to a slow start in the first half, but played with fire for a majority of the second. The biggest key is sustaining the energy underneath. The forward had five blocks and five rebounds, but what was more impressive was his ability to get the ball into transition quickly. It’s a wonder what actually gets Christmas going on the defensive end. Boeheim noted postgame Rak has a tendency to be out of position on both ends of the floor. That certainly has been evident throughout the season. But SU can’t afford any less intensity from Christmas than he displayed vs. DePaul. The Fizz asked Triche what motivates Rak on the court. “Alley-Oops. And when he gets big dunks and buckets down low.” Considering his offensive game, let’s hope that a defensive performance like tonight motivates the 6’10” forward down the stretch.

  • The Most Intriguing Storyline Came Pregame 

With a routine victory over a Big East bottom-feeder, perhaps the most interesting thing is what transpired beforehand. Talking with television play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti, he said Boeheim posed a question to his group in the locker room prior to tipoff: “Do you want to go down as the team that didn’t have heart?” It’s good to hear that despite his obstinate public denial of these concerns, Boeheim privately has called out his team’s effort. Whether it’s true, this year’s Orange has appeared to lack the leadership, composure, and hustle needed to make a deep NCAA Tourney run.

  • The Legacy of This Senior Class is TBD

Consider last year’s senior class. With Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph, it was abundantly clear on Senior Night they would go down with notable places in SU history, regardless of how the rest of their season went. Not quite the case for this year’s pair of seniors. Southerland and Triche have spent the better part of their careers on the bench during crunch time. Given the chance to finally take control as seniors they’ve led a group that’s sputtering at the wrong time. Triche and Southerland have quiet personalities, which is normally okay. It just doesn’t look too good when you’re supposed to be the leaders of a team that on the surface is lacking adequate leadership. If in the postseason Southerland becomes Big Game James, and Triche becomes what people have been waiting for since he was a freshman, then SU will have a great chance to go far, and the seniors will forever be known to Orange fans as clutch performers.

Posted: Andrew Kanell
The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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