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Examining Syracuse’s Offensive Woes

Wednesday brought another ugly, slug-fest of a Syracuse game, and more importantly, another Syracuse loss. The Orange’s offense was anemic from the opening tip to the final buzzer, never showing any signs of catching fire. With the loss to Georgia Tech, the Orange find themselves in a serious hole. They are once again under .500 in the ACC and have their next two games against Virginia and Louisville. So why has the offense been so bad and what can the Orange do to fix it quickly enough to steal a result against one of their next two opponents?

After Wednesday’s loss, Jim Boeheim didn’t exactly offer words of encouragement.

“Our offense is terrible; it’s been terrible all year”

For the most part, he is right. With a limited rotation, Syracuse has had to rely heavily on three players to produce nearly all of the offense. Tyus Battle, Frank Howard and freshman Oshae Brissett have accounted for almost 71% of the scoring for the Orange this season. This means, if one of them has an off night (which has been a relatively common occurrence), the offense is going to struggle mightily. In the last two games, where the offense has been particularly poor, junior guard Frank Howard has gone a combined 6-27 from the field. Battle is 9-27 over that stretch and Brissett is 8-26. That is a combined 23-80 which is under 29% from the field. Syracuse won’t beat anyone left on their schedule with shooting like that from their only scorers.

So what can the Orange do if they aren’t making shots? Well, according to their coach, not a whole lot.

“When you don’t make shots and you gotta drive, it becomes a hard game. We don’t run set plays to get shots because we can’t make ’em.

So reading between the lines here, Boeheim is pretty much saying that his offense is terrible and there is nothing that can be done about it. Here is the problem. Syracuse has been terrible on offense for most of the season but having a coach say that a team won’t even run set plays because he doesn’t think his team is capable of making shots is absurd. How can that be the solution? This sounds like a coach who has given up on his team for the season. I am not a professional basketball coach. I don’t have over 1,000 career wins (yes, NCAA. He has 1,018 wins), so call me crazy but I feel like refusing to run set offensive plays is a terrible strategy to get offense out of a team that is struggling.

So long as Syracuse has a coach that has the attitude that Jim Boeheim has when things aren’t going well, it is hard to see how they pull themselves out of the hole that they are currently in.

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