After a heartbreaking loss to Villanova, the Orange returned to the Dome and got back on the right track, beating Colgate by 35 points.
The game itself was not very competitive. Syracuse outscored the Raiders 43-13 in the first half while not committing a turnover in the first 20 minutes.
Limiting turnovers is one of the major areas of improvement the Orange needs to make before the second half of the season begins. Although Colgate did not present the pressure factor that a Top 25 team will, it is encouraging to see better control of the ball and fewer turnovers, especially from Kaleb Joseph. Looking back, it is hard to think Syracuse came down to the wire against both Villanova and Michigan while committing 20 and 19 turnovers, respectively.
The blowout also gave an opportunity for Ron “Buss” Patterson to show Coach Boeheim he is a viable threat off the bench. The sophomore scored 13 points and had 4 assists, while hitting 3 shots from behind the arc in 22 minutes. Patterson is the only frontcourt bench option for Boeheim.
This is the moment where Syracuse can permanently transform into a completely different team than it was the first 9 games of the season, highlighted by losses to California, Michigan and St. Johns. The matchup against Villanova showed the Orange could compete (and really should have won) against one of the premier teams in college basketball this year. Players look more poised and confident in their shot selection, which was an issue early on in the season.
The Orange also has a very favorable schedule coming up even after 2 remaining non-conference games against Long Beach State and Cornell. Syracuse starts ACC play off after the New Year with 7 winnable games against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Boston College, and Miami, while not playing a ranked team until heading to Chapel Hill at the end of January. This creates a golden opportunity for the Orange to work out issues, such as turning the ball over and committing early fouls in the frontcourt, and build momentum before playing the upper echelon of the ACC in Duke, Virginia, and Louisville.
Boeheim said after the game, “I think that overall we have gotten better. But we still got a long way to go to be where we’d like to be.” The Orange will have a chance to get to the level Boeheim alluded to before facing the big boys of the ACC.
Posted: Zephan Mayell