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Hey Syracuse, Embrace Small Ball!

“Orange is the new fast.” You hear Dino Babers say it all the time. The Syracuse football team is trying to do just that– be quicker than the other team. Well, maybe it’s time for Syracuse basketball to do the same. This year’s roster is full of small, fast, shifty guards and guard/forward combos. There are barely any true centers on the team. So the Orange need to embrace what they have.

Jim Boeheim has told the media plenty of times that he doesn’t like playing Marek Dolezaj as a center. So, to open the season he put Dolezaj at the starting power forward position and Bourama Sidibe at center. That lineup left freshman, budding-superstar Quincy Guerrier on the bench. Guerrier is thought to be one of the best players on the entire roster and is talented enough to be in the starting five.

It’s only been one game, but look at those players’ stats. Against Virginia, Dolezaj played all 40 minutes and grabbed 9 rebounds. Sidibe played 22 minutes, tallying only 2 boards and 2 points, and was called for 4 fouls. Guerrier only saw the court for 13 minutes in the first half and never in the second.

Those numbers are pretty revealing. They show that Dolezaj can handle himself on the boards. He can do it even better than Sidibe can. The numbers also show that Boeheim likes to have Dolezaj in and doesn’t trust Sidibe as much. Plus, Sidibe had 4 fouls without blocking or stealing the ball once in the paint. As for Guerrier, he just never got the opportunity. His coach didn’t trust him enough to let him play.

So, by crunching the numbers and using some intuition, it seems like Dolezaj at center, Guerrier at power forward, and Sidibe coming off the bench could be effective. As said before, this team is small and fast, so use that to your advantage. Sure, you may not get every rebound, but you got crushed on the boards with your taller lineup in against UVA anyway.

What the smaller lineup helps you do is have mismatches on offense. Syracuse could isolate a quick Guerrier against a slower power forward. That’s a mismatch Guerrier could exploit. Plus, the Orange wouldn’t have to worry as much about mismatches on the other end because they run a zone. The faster lineup could even help the zone because rotations would be quicker, which is something Boeheim has said needs to be fixed.

Now there may come a team that is just too tall for this smaller lineup, which is fine. If and when that team comes around, bring Sidibe or Jessie Edwards in and play that game with the bigger guys.

It is also worth noting that Sidibe and Dolezaj are the same height at 6’10”. Sidibe is only a better true big man because of his long reach.

It might be difficult and there might be some struggles getting used to it at first for Syracuse, but Boeheim needs to embrace the speed on his team and the lack of height and start playing small ball.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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