Too much isolation, not enough creative offense!
These complaints loomed large throughout the last two seasons with Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard at the core. The offense was truly stagnant with the trio. The 2017 sweet 16 run was on the shoulders of outstanding defense. They never meshed offensively.
Sure, Jim Boeheim can take some blame for the stifled offense, but SU had no problem scoring when John Gillon, Tyler Lydon and Andrew White were running the show a year prior. With all due respect to the outstanding players who are no longer on the roster, SU fans should be happily waving them goodbye and wishing them the best.
This season represents a much needed shakeup. But it means new challenges for the head coach. No longer can Boeheim rely on the talents of Tyus Battle off the dribble, or Oshae Brissett’s overpowering slashing. He certainly can’t rest his hopes on pick and roll offense from Frank Howard, which was too often unfulfilling.
Jim Boeheim has to figure out what will be a complicated new chemistry experiment. The team features five new freshmen. Quincy Guerrier is expected to start against Virginia on Wednesday. The head coach needs to work with a new starting point guard in Jalen Carey. He needs to mold Elijah Hughes into an effective number one option. He needs to get Bourama Sidibe ready to play relatively big minutes at center. There is literally only one thing that WON’T be changing this season: Buddy Boeheim remains the starting 2-guard and his role only expands mildly. Other than that, this season epitomizes a clean slate.
The opportunity for success is massive. In reality, Syracuse has less individual talent compared to last season. That’s why they come into this season unranked, not 16th. But they aren’t held prisoner by a few star players who don’t distribute the basketball at a high level. This team could play more like a team…. On the offensive end (the team defense remained strong last season).
Jim Boeheim was asked last season why he’s not running more set offense. He said he can’t, because he doesn’t have the three-point shooters. That was mostly fair. Slashing wing players aren’t really conducive to offenses full of off ball screening and motion offense. But this season is different.
Syracuse has shooters— Buddy, Hughes, Girard, Goodine (the jury is still out on Guerrier and Carey). There is no reason why this Orange team can’t play like Mike Bray’s Notre Dame with this roster. Get players moving, move the ball inside and out and find catch and shoot threes. Mix in Hughes isolation and Carey on pick and rolls. Throw in Sidibe post-ups. But run set offense! The possibilities span way wider than last season’s simplified offense. But these are just possibilities.
The big idea here is that Jim Boeheim is very much a factor this season. He has efficacy. In his 44th season, the man in charge is still proving himself as a threat in the modern NCAA.