What may have gotten lost in SU’s much-needed 74 – 58 win over Florida State Sunday was the Orange’s hard work rebounding. A 43 – 24 advantage on the boards should get it done every time against any opponent. Rebounding is arguably the biggest key to this team’s hopes for another run at the Final Four. A look at Syracuse’s job on the glass in its four losses this season:
Vs. Boston College 2 – 19 SU: 37 BC: 40
At Duke 2 – 22
SU: 37 DU: 34
At Virginia 3 – 1
SU: 29 UVA: 39
Vs. Georgia Tech 3 – 4 SU: 38 GT: 39
Although the differentials are not significant, the up and down game flow has been noticeably altered in the program’s contests on the losing end. The main issue for Syracuse has been its lack of simply putting the ball in the basket. However, solid rebounding assures a few things: more opportunities on the offensive end and second chance points. Given how competitive the ACC has been this season, teams will take any way to increase possessions over the course of games.
Jerami Grant’s return to the floor definitely gives the Orange a lot more confidence in rebounding. He’s SU’s most consistent rebounder when you factor in the constant foul trouble Rakeem Christmas and Bae Keita find themselves in. You’ll take the 12 ppg and 7 rpg every night, and the occasional breakout game like FSU yesterday. What you also hope for is a balanced effort top to bottom on the roster. Jim Boeheim has to enjoy games when five of seven rotation players grab at least four boards or more. Syracuse got just that yesterday (Grant 8, Keita 7, Fair 7, Christmas 6, Ennis 4).
Now that it’s a lock for it to land at least a no. 2 seed, Syracuse can take pleasure in potential home court advantage all it wants. But it comes down to the play on the actual court. Boeheim can reiterate all he desires about it coming down to SU just missing shots. Valiant efforts on the glass have kept the Orange in every tight contest. Usually if its pulls ahead in that category, good shot it pulls ahead on top. Rebounding controls the pace and momentum of basketball games. In what’s been a historic season, Syracuse has prioritized that to be one of the program’s all-time best.
Posted by: Brendan Glasheen