With Syracuse basketball’s season fate still hanging in the air, there are plenty of questions to ask as the Orange finish up the last four games on the regular season schedule.
SU has had a faltering defense this season, and Coach Boeheim summed it up in the postgame press conference after a tough 76-72 loss to #8 Louisville last night: “If we win a game, it’s because we outscore somebody. That’s it. We cannot get stops.”
So with an offense that has been and will be so crucial to the Orange’s success, here is what Syracuse has to do when it has the ball in order to end the regular season on a high note:
Get Inside the Arc
If anything, last night’s game showed that Syracuse cannot rely solely on the three-ball.
The Cardinals did a phenomenal job creating a border around the three-point line, forcing the Orange to shoot the long-ball. It wouldn’t have been much of an issue if SU was actually making those shots. Instead, Syracuse went 8-33 from the distance.
Even Andrew White III, Syracuse’s leading three-point shooter, only saw two of his threes fall last night.
The Orange will have to find a way to penetrate this kind of defensive wall (in addition to sinking a higher percentage of threes) in order to win against top-ranked opponents the rest of this year and down the road.
SU might even be able to steal some tricks that its opponents have used when the Orange’s defense was standing strong. This scenario might be the perfect one for Syracuse to pass the ball to the top of the key and then into the paint at the post for dunks, alley-oops, short jumpers and/or layups — a trick Syracuse’s opponents have used against the Orange this year and last.
Have Plans Set Up and Ready to Go
Simply said, the Orange offense looked clueless at points last night.
Too many times we saw Syracuse get the ball and give it to John Gillon just to have Gillon dribble in place outside the arc and point at different players in attempts to direct them around the court.
Much of the time, all that scene did was waste time off the shot clock and confuse the rest of the SU offense. Syracuse’s “O” became stagnant and failed to execute with bad communication.
Last season, the Syracuse player with the ball would hold up a number of fingers to signal the plan to the rest of the offense. That clear communication is along the lines of what the Orange need again now. And that means having different play types set up in advance so they can be signaled.
There might only be four games left in the regular season, but there is still a long way to go. These offensive strategies are some of many that Syracuse will have to incorporate into its play so it can improve as it continues with what Boeheim has called a “Herculean effort” this season.
Published: David Edelstein