If John Wildhack learned anything from this past weekend, it might be to never schedule a giant weekend in New York City ever again. Jokes aside, a peaking Syracuse athletics program took a sharp downward turn after a 1-3 showing in NYC. The only saving grace was Women’s basketball beating a ranked Texas A&M team to kick off the week. But in terms of men’s sports, it was a dud of a week. Only a handful of players stood out, while some others were far from impressive in the Big Apple.
The freshman shined in his backyard for the Orange at The Garden. He got his first career starts and figures to stay in the lineup until Frank Howard is healthy. In the first game against UConn, Carey shook off some early turnover struggles and finished with the best night of his young career by pouring in 26 points. He followed that up with 14 points against Oregon while only coughing up the ball twice. Those performances were good enough to earn him all-tournament team honors. Jim Boeheim said Carey was the only reason the team had a chance against UConn, which is high praise for a freshman in just his third career game.
Cisco continued to show why he’s an All-American candidate as just a freshman. He picked up his sixth pick of the year, good for second in the entire country. He also added a pass breakup, but what may have been more impressive was his open-field tackling. Cisco chopped down ball carriers to turn potential 10-plus yard plays into just two or three. His nine tackles tied a season high and shows a glimpse that this secondary is no joke for the next couple years.
How about this, three newcomers in the stock up column. But it’s certainly warranted. Hughes averaged 14.5 points over the two games, but fouling out in both games kept him off the court at times. He is the only Orange player to have multiple three pointers in a game, which is a good sign for him as a scorer and a bad one for SU’s shooting as a whole. The East Carolina transfer also racked up seven steals over the weekend, which shows he’s engaged defensively.
This was DeVito’s chance to shine in the national spotlight in the marquee game of the college football week. But he simply fell flat. DeVito looked so unimpressive that it looked like the coaching staff gave up on him midway through the game by opting to run the ball more frequently, including on third and mediums. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly expected the major change with Eric Dungey out of the lineup to be a more pass-heavy attack. But he got far from that. DeVito completed just 45 percent of his passes on the afternoon. He also threw two picks, which seemingly took him out of his element. It looked like the redshirt freshman was finally getting into a groove at one point and hit Taj Harris right on the numbers, but it got jarred out of his hands and ended in an interception. This surely had Orange fans clamoring for Dungey’s return to the lineup.
SU’s offensive line
Now it would be unfair to solely blame DeVito for the Orange’s struggles in the passing game. The offensive line, which has been very good prior to Saturday, allowed a season high six sacks. For such an experienced bunch that held Clemson’s all-world defensive line in check with just one sack, the offensive line looked completely overmatched.
Brissett looked like Syracuse’s best player on the floor in the first two games, but he had a wildly inefficient time at Madison Square Garden. The sophomore finished the weekend 5-for-27 (18.5 percent) from the field. He is now a lifetime 2-for-16 from three at the Garden. But maybe the most disheartening stat for Brissett was his rebounding. This is a guy who, even when his shots aren’t falling, is very active on the boards. But he only racked up five against an undersized UConn team and six against Oregon. Boeheim called out his team’s physicality and effort over the weekend. Brissett is certainly someone that needs to step up for the remainder of the season because when he wants to be, he is the best player on the floor.