Tuesday night’s 71-62 Syracuse win over Iona was the definition of taking care of business. It wasn’t overly flashy or opinion-altering but, nonetheless, it was still what the Orange needed.
Syracuse controlled the game for a full 40 minutes and looked just a little better than a pretty good Iona team. Now this win doesn’t mean SU is going to be better than advertised in the ACC or overachieve in non-conference play. There were still some negatives but before we get to those let’s start with the positives.
Marek Dolezaj is Scrappy
The Slovakian mystery man has had an up and down start to the season. However, one thing’s for sure: he’s been hustling a lot. That was on full display Tuesday night as Dolezaj played significant minutes down the stretch and tallied 7 points and 6 rebounds. To cap off a great second half, the freshmen scrapped his way to three rebounds on one play and banked in a layup that essentially sealed the game with a little over a minute left.
“He goes after offensive rebounds, that’s what he does,” Boeheim said. “He’s a really good offensive rebounder.”
Dolezaj came in as the big unknown. But if he keeps hustling like Tuesday night he’s quickly going to become a fan favorite.
Tyus Battle Proved He Has a Fifth Gear
We’ve seen Tyus Battle play a lot of big games but Tuesday against Iona the sophomore went to another level we haven’t seen. After a pedestrian first half, Battle basically just told all his SU teammates to get out of the way and let him do his thing. He straight up took over the game. The New Jersey native racked up a career high 28 points and proved he can handle the added responsibility that comes with being a leader.
“That’s what I live for,” Battle said. “Just being aggressive and willing my team to a win.”
If any were doubting that Battle could elevate his game and be the go-to-guy this year, I think he proved them wrong Tuesday night.
On the glass-half empty side of things. Two SU players didn’t have great nights.
Matt Moyer Still Can’t Find His Offense
As a redshirt freshmen, Moyer still looks a little timid on the offensive end. SU’s starting forward has been a force on the glass and pretty strong defensively. But, offensively he still needs to gain some confidence.
“He can’t figure out how he’s gonna score,” Coach Boeheim said about Moyer. “We gotta get Matt [Moyer] contributing more.”
Moyer sat out a majority of the second half after only attempting one shot on the night (a missed three pointer). If you count the two exhibition games, he’s shooting slightly below 35% from the field.
Geno Thorpe Was Also Benched
The USF-grad transfer might still not be 100 percent back from his ankle injury but he has really struggled on the young season. After just going 3 for 13 in the opener, Thorpe played a shaky 8 minutes in the first half Tuesday before getting buried in Jim’s doghouse.
“If he plays better he will get in,” Boeheim said. “He was terrible.”
Tell us how you really feel Jim. SU needs Thorpe’s scoring and veteran leadership badly. The grad-transfer can’t give the Orange many more performances like Tuesday night.
- Frank Howard looked very solid in the first half. The junior fell into some bad habits and turned the ball over a couple too many times in the second half. However, it was still a promising performance from SU’s point guard.
- Fellow point guard Howard Washington did not play a single minute. Boeheim traditionally plays rotations of no more than 8 players and right now Washington appears to be the 9th.
- Bourama Sidibe struggled a little bit and didn’t put up any numbers to write home about. He needs to improve his free throw shooting (2-6 on the night). But the freshmen still provided some good front court defense.
- Paschal Chukwu grabbed 10 rebounds and played pretty solid outside of a few sloppy turnovers.
NEXT UP: 2-0 Syracuse hosts Texas Southern Saturday to kick off the Miami HoopHall Invitational.