Cracking the Code: The Math on Just How Important Shooting Is For Syracuse

After starting the season 25-0, Syracuse has dropped five of its last seven games and has cast doubt upon Final Four aspirations that filled Orange Nation for the first three quarters of the season.

Just a month ago, Syracuse seemed like the team of destiny: beating Pittsburgh on a prayer and North Carolina State with a furious comeback. But, since then, the Orange has been abysmal in more ways than one.

One reason for the drastic decline in play has been the overall lack of scoring. Currently the team is scoring 68.3 points per game on the season, but in the last seven, has only scored an average of 61.6 per game. Conversely, on the season the Orange has allowed 59.5 points per game on the season, but in the last seven, has allowed 64.1 per game.

In Friday’s loss to the NC State Wolfpack, the Orange shot under 33 percent for the game. This was aided by a poor shooting night from senior CJ Fair, who was just 3-for-16 from the field.

It has been a theme in all of the Orange’s losses. In those games, Fair has shot 7-for-23 (Boston College), 6-for-12 (@Duke), 4-for-13 (@Virginia), 12-for-25 (Georgia Tech), and Friday night’s performance.

Compare this to Fair’s efforts when the Orange was winning, and stat lines like 12-for-20 (Duke), 9-for-13 (@Florida State), and 8-for-13 (Clemson) stand out. Fair was taking less shots and scoring more, which equated to winning.

The problem for the Orange is that they do not have a pure shooter to turn to when Fair is struggling (which he has for a majority of the past month). Jerami Grant has been the closest bet to a ‘sure-thing’ for the Orange, but he has been battling an ailing back and has to slash his way through the paint to score. He came to play against the Wolfpack Friday, but it clearly wasn’t enough.  Trevor Cooney, on the other hand, has underperformed consistently since conference play began.

Cooney was supposed to be the dependable shooter that Syracuse faithful have become accustomed to over the years. Already being compared to the likes of Gerry McNamera and Andy Rautins, Cooney had high expectations. But Cooney hasn’t scored in double digits since the loss to Virginia and even then was an extremely inefficient 4-for-12 from the field.

Without Cooney scoring, the Orange’s season three-point percentage has dropped to 33.8 percent, and in the five losses is only 23 percent. When the Orange doesn’t hit threes, it becomes ugly pretty quickly. Unless the shooters wake up and help balance the offense, the Orange will be looking at an early exit from a tournament.

Just look at the Orange’s last possession Friday night. Six opportunities to put points on the board, four of them from behind the arc to tie the game. None of the six fell, and many weren’t even close. The defense has kept the team in the game, but unless Fair and Cooney can start scoring from the outside, March will end very quickly for this Orange squad.

Posted: Jason Weingold


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  1. The truth of the matter is Cooney is our 3 point guru. We have no one else. He has been pretty poor this season, but going 1 – 6 against NC State is typical of his lack of 3 -point prowess. I feel sorry for him, but he is perhaps the weakest link on the SU starting 5 team. Why do we have only 0ne player who is supposed to be the 3 – point expert? The stats don’t lie.

  2. Terry says:

    syracuce.com at least gives ya SUFB info thanks for that!! Spring practice starts today!!

  3. Terry says:

    DO NOT FORGET THE KIDS OF PSABUSEDU! THE NCAA DID!!

  4. Chris says:

    Terry shut up about football! You want more football news start your own blog and find it! Spring started TODAY which means we won’t know any new information until after practice ends today.

  5. Ron says:

    @Terry;

    I’m glad that spring football is starting to day. I want you to know that they’re still stacking the steel girders and beams needed for the IPF building up at the Skytop parking lot. I hope they start construction soon because if it isn’t gone by august they won’t have enough room for the fans to park their cars at.

    Two years ago we brought in 6’5″ 311 lb basketball player Jamar McGloster from NJ who never played a down of football. His coach Bob Hurley convinced him to play football and a call to Syracuse was made. he became an OT for the football team. Well I met and talked with last night and boy is this kid big. Great kid,and I thanked him for deciding to come to Syracuse to play football. He’s developed quite nicely and has become one of the backups at OT as a redshirt freshman. He told me lastnight that he was really happy that he came here to play. Jamar should be a force on the OL by the time he graduates. Looking forward to watching him play.

    Chris,guys like Terry and I have minds that can absorb information on multiple sports faster than most and are not closed minded like people who tell us to shut up about certain sports. Spring Football started today,there are a lot that can be discussed about the recruits,the new coaching hires or whats happening with the talks about the new changes coming to the dome. It doesn’t have to be all about the basketball program. Geez,you know I didn’t see anything in print about the Mens Lacrosse team beating the second ranked John Hopkins team over the weekend or the Womens Lacrosse team beating up on the #2/#3 ranked Florida Gators over the weekend either. syracuse does have fans that’s interested in all of their programs. Telling us to keep our mouths shut wasn’t very smart on your part. Get my drift here sport?

    I don’t think this website is doing it’s fans any justice by giving us basketball information only. Members like Terry and I would really appreciate the Fizz becoming members of the 21st century by giving us information on all sports as much as they give us on basketball.

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