Don’t lose hope just yet. Syracuse started the season a little rocky and still may not be a tournament team, but it’s making a case. The Orange first took down a top-tier Virginia team over the weekend and now demolished Boston College 76-50 on Wednesday. There was a lot to like if you are an SU fan. So, here’s a report card for Syracuse following its BC win.
The offense looked pretty good against BC. The ball was moving fast, it wasn’t just isolation play, and shots were falling. Syracuse is a team that lives and dies by its shooters, and on Wednesday the shooters were on. There wasn’t much that you could complain about in terms of the offense. Anything below an A- would just be rude.
This was far and away the best defensive game Syracuse has played all season. The Orange held the Eagles to just 13 points in the entire first half. That is the fewest amount of points a team has scored against SU in a half since November 6, 2018 when Easter Washington was only able to put up 10. The zone was stifling. Players were getting out on shooters, hands were getting in the passing lanes, and feet were moving fast to keep up with the ball movement.
“We’ve done some things differently on defense that has helped us a little bit,” said Boeheim. “So it is a little bit better, but we still have a ways to go.”
It doesn’t hurt that BC’s offense was atrocious too. The Eagles only shot 33% from the field and 6-30 from deep.
THE BIG THREE: B+
Let’s be clear, the Syracuse Big Three is in reference to the combination of Buddy Boeheim, Elijah Hughes and Joe Girard. Those three are SU’s top scorers this season and played like it again against BC. Boeheim finished with 22 points, Hughes with 19, and Girard with 12. Their numbers are pretty on-par with their season averages, but Buddy’s ability to score inside the three-point line is what stood out. Last year it was difficult to trust him when he would but the ball on the floor, but he showed off his dribbling ability against Boston College. He weaved through the defense and finished in traffic multiple times. Plus, added some classic Buddy Boeheim three’s. The reason why the grade isn’t any higher is because Girard. Yes, he finished with 12, but it wasn’t a convincing 12 and he didn’t contribute much as a distributor or on defense. As for Hughes, he was Hughes. He is a consistent scorer and presence on the defensive side of the ball.
One nice thing that came out of Wednesday’s game was that Boeheim actually trusted his bench. He put in Quincy Guerrier, Howard Washington, and Jessie Edwards all in the first half, which is something he hasn’t done in a while. He even emptied the bench at the end of the game, which allowed Brycen Goodine to show off.
“I thought it was a good opportunity for Howard to get something done,” said Boeheim. “Brycen has had a lot of trouble with that nose and the face guard, but he made a couple good plays.”
They didn’t play the best, only adding 11 points, but there were flashes. We are still waiting for consistency from Guerrier and confidence from Edwards, but Washington and Goodine both looked serviceable.
Rebounding has been an issue for the Orange throughout the season. It wasn’t good on Wednesday either, but it was at least better. Syracuse out-rebounded Boston College 40-28, but still allowed 10 offensive rebounds. There is still of plenty of room to grow for the Orange in the rebounding category.
The victory moves Syracuse to 10-7 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. It was the type of game the Orange have to win if they want to be in contention for the tournament at the end of the season. The good news is, they did win. Syracuse has a couple days off and then it travels down to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech this Saturday at noon.