At long last, a complete game with two solid halves from Syracuse basketball. SU avenged its home loss to St. Bonaventure last year and beat up on the Bonnies 81-47 in its final non-conference game of 2018 Saturday afternoon.
It was a non-conference to forget. Four losses. Two at home to mid majors and two early season wake-ups at Madison Square Garden. You can’t really sugarcoat it. It was frustrating, especially considering the preseason expectations. But, there is still plenty of season left and Saturday proved Syracuse might be rounding into form at just the right time.
St. Bonaventure is not anything special. They’re now 4-9 on the season and not even close to the team that made a little bit of a run in March last year and beat SU. But, Syracuse was due for a fast start and dominating performance from start to finish. This was a much more complete game than Arkansas State.
Tyus Battle started hot and didn’t look back. The junior led the way with 21 points and went a perfect 8-8 from the floor (!). Marek Dolezaj again got the nod as the starting center and had one of his better offensive games of the non-conference season. It feels like he maybe has struggled to find his role on this year’s team with more options, but Dolezaj was great on both ends Saturday, scoring nine points.
Elijah Hughes also played another really solid game. He had 16 points on 6-10 shooting. Hughes has been the most consistent option this year and the non-conference struggles are most definitely not because of him. Buddy Boeheim also showed flashes with a new career-high 12 points in 17 mins.
The elephant in the room is still Frank Howard. The senior went 1-4 and only tallied four points Saturday. He feels like the X factor going into conference play. He still seems hesitant and can’t get things going on offense. If he can get back to his old self that changes the ceiling of this team.
Joe Lunardi had SU on his first four out in his latest bracketology. It’s going to take a strong conference run. But we know they are capable of that with the talent on this team and the defense. You’d think at the very least they have a couple dome upsets in conference play and when you look at the first six games, there’s potential for a hot start.
When you look at the conference schedule, there's definitely potential for a strong start.
If you beat an injury-plagued ND team on the road, you're looking at four very winnable games outside of Duke and a realistic chance at a 5-1 start to ACC play. pic.twitter.com/isVvFC8Tqi
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) December 29, 2018
It might be a down year for the ACC. Teams like Miami, Clemson, Notre Dame, Wake Forest and of course, Syracuse, have had disappointing seasons thus far. While, NC State and Louisville have been better than expected, it looks like their are some wins to be had. Syracuse just needs to play with the focus they displayed Saturday against St. Bonaventure and get more from senior Frank Howard.