The Orange made it through its most daunting non-conference schedule in recent history undefeated and now sits at 13-0 entering its first ACC conference game. In a very successful non-conference slate, the Fizz takes a look at some of the pros and cons of the early season.
Tyler Ennis’ Early Season Play: Nobody could have seen this coming for the freshman point guard. Ennis has exceeded expectations showing a great presence on the court and an ability to dish out assists while not turning the ball over. He has just 15 turnovers in 13 games. Ennis has also provided more scoring than expected. Let’s hope that, with Ennis is playing so well, he will avoid playing himself into one-and-done territory.
Trevor Cooney’s Lights Out Shooting: Cooney is shooting over 50 percent from 3-point range this year. It’s hard to imagine anyone who saw this coming before the year started. Cooney has made large strides since last year, showing more confidence and ability in his shot. Cooney’s improved all-around game is a major part of why the Orange stands is 13-0.
Getting Through Non-Conference Undefeated: While the Orange is likely the favorite to win the conference after seeing how all the teams played, if Syracuse does not win the ACC tournament, the non-conference schedule could determine NCAA Tournament seeding. The Orange had quality wins over Minnesota, Cal, Baylor, Indiana, St. John’s and Nova. Those wins could be the difference between a two seed and a four seed on Selection Sunday.
The Bigs: DaJuan Coleman and Rakeem Christmas haven’t quite developed enough to be consistent threats on the offensive end. Christmas and Baye Keita have played the type of defense that was expected of them, but the offensive output has not been there down low for the Orange. Against Eastern Michigan, Christmas had his best offensive game of the year, scoring 15 points. But the Orange needs to get consistent play out of the bigs to take some of the load off Cooney, CJ Fair and Ennis on the perimeter.
Second Half Lulls: In too many games this year, the Orange has struggled in the second half of games. Fordham outscored Syracuse by 10 in the second half. And Syracuse outscored St. Francis by just two in the second half of that matchup. At the Garden St. John’s outscored the Orange by seven in the second half and led SU as late as the four minute mark. A run of five or eight minutes when the Orange falls asleep could be the difference between a win or a loss against Duke or UNC.
Overall, there is a lot to like from the 13-0 start for the Orange, but that doesn’t mean the team is flawless. With just a few adjustments, SU could become even more dangerous than it already is.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg