Iowa may have given the Orange a scare in its last game at Madison Square Garden, but the team persevered and pulled out a win, ending a very underwhelming two-day stretch in New York City. Luckily, the road gets much easier for the Orange – which will give coach Boeheim time to work with his inexperienced team. Here’s what he needs to work on:
When to Push the Tempo, and When Not To:
Last season, Tyler Ennis ran a cool, calm and collected Syracuse offense that rarely pushed the tempo and ran the floor. With explosive point guard Kaleb Joseph at the helm though, the Orange are ‘all systems go’ as soon as they get the ball.
The team is already averaging 71 offensive possessions per game this season, compared to just 62 last season (nearly last in the country). While this is definitely a positive for a team that is having trouble scoring, there is a right time to do this, and certainly a wrong time. Fans saw their freshman point guard rush too many possessions down the stretch, which almost cost the Orange the game. He took a rushed jump shot with almost a full shot clock inside of one minute left, giving the Hawkeyes a very legitimate shot to get back in the game. Instead, Joseph needs to work on his patience and poise at the top of the key down the stretch of games.
Getting the Ball Inside:
It is no secret that Rakeem Christmas is the X-factor for the Orange this season, and Boeheim needs to find a way to feed him in the post more often. He has gotten ample opportunities to show off his new talents in the post, but on many possessions, Rak had established position plenty of times, but the team failed to get him the ball. While the ball movement and the off-ball movement has been infinitely better this season, the Orange are having trouble converting the crisp passes into points.
For the first time in what seems like forever, the Orange offense is going to have to run from the inside-out. The scoring starts with Rak and Chris McCullough on the inside, and will only move behind the arc once the Orange establishes a consistent threat inside the paint.
Turn to the Bench:
Boeheim practically abandoned the bench at Madison Square Garden. Boehiem knows what he is doing (950+ wins has to get you some credibility…), but with such an inexperienced roster, there is no reason to shorten the bench when the team can’t score points.
BJ Johnson, who scored 27 through the first two games, was limited to just 13 minutes against Cal and didn’t play against Iowa. Ron Patterson played only 13 minutes in both games, as well. When the offense sputtered and turned the ball over countless times against Cal and Iowa, there is no reason the bench shouldn’t have come into the game.
With the defense looking like Swiss cheese, Boeheim should have tried anything to get the wings to stay tight and not fall for ball fakes and leave the baseline open. Luckily, in the upcoming games, Boeheim can get the bench some valuable experience that can go a long way in ACC play.
Posted: Jason Weingold