Syracuse’s season ended in a sloppy, turnover-prone manner. Few Orange fans found this surprising after a season’s worth of inefficient offense, but who knew it would end with 18 turnovers against an 11-seed in the NCAA tournament? What happened to the SU offense against the Golden Eagles?
Jim Boeheim, master of the 2-3 zone defense, has always been a bit less system-oriented on the other end of the floor. The “motion offense” is what people call it, but it is in name only. It is pro-style, catering to the star player on the court, focusing the offense around his strengths.
But what happens when there is no 1A player?
A quick perusing of the record books can identify every team since the 2003 championship, their leading scorer, and NCAA finish that season.
- 2002-03: Carmelo Anthony – National Championship
- 03-04: Hakim Warrick – Sweet 16
- 04-05: Hakim Warrick – First Round
- 05-06: Gerry McNamara – First Round
- 06-07: Demetris Nichols – NIT
- 07-08: Donte Greene – NIT
- 08-09: Jonny Flynn – Sweet 16
- 09-10: Wes Johnson – Sweet 16
- 10-11: Kris Joseph – 2nd Round
Stars drove The Per’fesser’s recent teams to three Sweet 16’s and a title. It’s easy to dismiss this with, “Hey Conroy, that’s real insightful. Teams with star players go deeper into the tournament?” Yes, but plenty of schools have managed to go further without a star player. Marquette has grit, Butler has a 12-year old head coach, and Florida State has defense. Teams adapt to their players and make an offensive system that works for them.
The motion offense is dependent on having a star to run it through. Without a great scorer, the sets end up focusing simply on the team’s best player on the team – and in the case of Nichols or Joseph, a player who may not be capable of carrying a team.
This year was a prime example. Scoop Jardine was actually the point man in the motion, though he did not lead the team in scoring. His inconsistent play and lack of ability to take over a game is not what you need out of the 1A player. Against Marquette it showed since the Golden Eagles are a strong defensive team that matches up well against Syracuse.
He isn’t Warrick. He isn’t ‘Melo. He is most certainly not Wes either. The Orange needs a go-to player to be a dominant tournament team. They didn’t have that this year, and it cost them late in a game.
Do any of the Three Amigos – Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney, or Michael Carter -Williams – have this ability? Can Joseph become the dominant player most fans have been waiting for? It’s possible, but doesn’t soothe the pain of yet another early exit.
Posted: Ted Conroy