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Syracuse Basketball’s Biggest Issue May be the Defense

Syracuse has struggled to rebound and guard the perimeter this season.

It became pretty clear very early on that this year’s Syracuse basketball team would be a little bit different in that they will rely heavily on shooting from outside the arc. Lost in the madness while the Orange were chucking up thirty-plus three pointers early in the season was the importance of the famed 2-3 zone.

Though Boeheim is still suspended for another three weeks or so, Syracuse will not alter its exclusive 2-3 defense. It can be argued that this small Syracuse team is not perfectly fit to play the 2-3 zone as they often do not even have a natural center on the floor. That is a moot point because like it or not, it isn’t changing.

What this does mean is that Syracuse will need to make adjustments if they want to get back in winning ways. During the latest stretch, during which the Orange have lost three out of four games, opponents are lighting Syracuse up on the boards and from beyond the arc.

Yes, Syracuse has not shot well in its past few games. However, this is Syracuse basketball. They have never been a 90 point a game team and probably never will be, even with this seemingly more potent offense. As such, Syracuse will once again need to start winning games on defense. They have certainly failed to do that of late.

You really don’t need to look further than the disastrous St. Johns game. St. John;s went 12-24 from downtown. The Johnnies certainly shot lights out but all too often, the Orange failed to close down the shooter and gave the Johnnies an open look and St. John’s certainly made the Orange pay for their mistakes.

There is no magical solution that will help the Orange cut down on the three pointers they concede. Syracuse has always given up a decent number of three pointers as the strength of the 2-3 zone is down low, leaving the perimeter more open. What is really makes the Orange’s inability to defend the perimeter so costly is that is coupled with their inability to rebound.

The Orange not only give up a lot of three pointers, they give up a lot of second chance three pointers. These are absolute killers. When the defense struggles to guard the perimeter, the offense resorts to the strategy of wildly chucking three pointers that we’ve seen the past few games. Needless to say, that has not worked well.

In short, while the offense has certainly cooled off, the team’s struggles, it can be argued, is due more to defensive issues than anything else.

 

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