The Orange hit another low last night. The old adage is “defense wins championships,” but when a team is as bad offensively as Syracuse is that phrase does not apply. In last night’s 66-63 ACC tournament quarterfinal loss to NC State the Orange shot a woeful 32.7% from the field. As if that isn’t bad enough, Syracuse went 0-6 during its last offensive possession. After losing 4 of 6 to end the regular season many thought the ACC tournament would provide a chance for the Orange to regroup and launch its NCAA tournament title bid. Wrong. All this tournament did was confirm our biggest fear: SU may be a quick exit next weekend.
Looking at offensive statistics it’s obvious Syracuse has issues. In 11 of Syracuse’s 32 games the Orange shot under 40% from the field. Arizona, Duke, Florida and Kansas have all only had 4 games during their regular seasons where they’ve shot below 40%. To win the NCAA tournament a team needs to grab 6 consecutive games. Only once this season has Syracuse gone 6 straight games shooting over 40%. A poor shooting performance, like we saw last night against NC State, will end a season in March.
The Syracuse offensive attack is one-dimensional. Trevor Cooney is the only player on SU with more than 100 three-point shot attempts this season. If Cooney isn’t hitting from deep opposing defenses can pack it in and make it difficult for Syracuse to score inside. This is not the case for some of the best teams in the nation. Duke, Florida, Kansas and Wichita State all have three players on their rosters who have taken at least 100 three point shots this season. If one player has an off night for these squads, they are still a threat from behind the arc and can stretch defenses. When Cooney is cold (and he’s been for awhile now), this does not happen with Syracuse.
The Orange also has a far too limited bench. The Syracuse starters led their team to a 25-0 start and now look permanently tired. Michael Gbinije and Baye Moussa Keita combine to average a mere 5.3 points per game coming off of the bench. When the starters need help scoring (like they do now) Gbinije and Keita can’t be asked to play bigger roles offensively. Championship teams need some help off the bench. In last year’s National Championship game Luke Hancock came in for Louisville and scored 22 points in the team’s win over Michigan. He played so well he was was voted the Final Four MVP. Depth is a necessity that Syracuse does not possess.
The loss last night for the Orange seems to hammer home this squad is just not fit to return to the Final Four.
Posted: Connor Morrissette