Syracuse wasn’t so friendly to its friends to the north, when Carleton University of Canada came to the Dome Tuesday night. In the final preseason game, the Orange downed the Ravens 77-58. It’s a pretty impressive margin against a Carleton team that is no pushover. The Canadian powerhouse has won 14 national championships, including the 2019 title. But, Syracuse was too much for Carleton to handle as SU finished 2-0 in exhibition games.
Yes, it is just preseason. Yes, Jim Boeheim was trying out different things. Yes, Carleton isn’t comparable to ACC competition. That is all true, but Tuesday night’s game showed a lot about Syracuse before the regular season starts. Here is SU’s report card after the exhibition game against Carleton.
Three point shooting is far and away the best thing Syracuse does. The Orange went 8-15 in the first half from deep and looked good doing it. They trailed off a bit in the second, shooting just 2-10. Boeheim has been saying this team is full of sharpshooters and they showed it on Tuesday. From Buddy Boeheim, to Elijah Hughes, to Joe Girard, Syracuse has plenty of options on the perimeter.
One issue the offense had against Carleton, and was guilty of a lot last year, was being stagnant. There was a lot of standing around, waiting for one person to make a move and go one-on-one. That won’t work against better defenders. It will only take an off night from deep to derail this offense. The Orange need to keep moving on the offensive side. They’re not perfect yet, but the three-ball was on fire against the Ravens, so that is why the offense gets the best grade on the report card.
The defense was, surprisingly, good. There was a lot of talking and movement from the guards all the way down to the big men in the zone. Carleton did a very good job with swinging the ball quickly and getting the Orange to move, but it seemed like they always got there in time to get a hand up in the opponent’s face.
The biggest issue with the SU defense was the inside, specifically the low block. The Ravens did a good job at penetrating the zone and finding the soft spots in the paint. A lot of their points came from dump-downs to the low block, which led to open layups. That’s an area Syracuse will have to address as the season gets rolling.
“[Carleton] got in the lane too much. That’s what they tried to do and they did a good job at it,” said Boeheim. “We adjusted a little bit and did a little bit better job, and got better at it.”
During warmups it was very easy to tell that Carleton couldn’t match Syracuse’s size. So, the Orange should have dominated the Ravens on the boards. While SU did end up leading in the rebounding battle, the margin was closer than it should have been. Syracuse finished with just a plus-4 rebound margin.
“We didn’t rebound the first half,” said Boeheim. “Second half we got on the boards a little bit better and got some second chances.”
For being a team with a lot of freshmen, that relies on the youngsters and expects them to play big roles this season, Syracuse looked like an experienced team against Carleton. The newbies didn’t look new. They stepped right in and contributed immediately. Joe Girard was the second leading scorer with 14 points in just 17 minutes. Quincy Guerrier and Brycen Goodine each added 8. Plus, Jessie Edwards filled his role while Boura Sidibe was out. If the freshmen can continue to play like that in the regular season, Syracuse fans should be excited for not only this season, but many seasons to come.
On paper it was a successful preseason for the Orange and their report card reflects that. However, exhibition competition is not the same as ACC competition, and that is what Syracuse has on the horizon. SU has shown flashes, but there is still a lot of room for growth with this team.
“We have a long way to go. We have guys not sure what they’re doing, some of the time, most of the time, ” said Boeheim. “It’s going to take time. We just need to keep plugging away.”