Syracuse’s season is over. After seemingly resolving its offensive issues against Western Michigan in the second round of the NCAAA tournament, SU went right back to its poor scoring form in its 55-53 loss third round loss to Dayton. Despite playing in its own backyard in Buffalo, the Orange’s offensive attack was down right pathetic for most of this game. Syracuse shot 39% from the field and could not convert in the closing moments. Tyler Ennis had two chances to give the Orange the lead with just seconds remaining in the game and missed both of his jump shots.
CJ Fair disappointed going only 4-14 from the field in this game and Trevor Cooney was a complete nonfactor. He scored just one bucket. Fair claimed Dayton’s defense did not throw off the Orange, SU simply did not have it tonight: “[Dayton’s defense] is not anything different. It’s just we didn’t react good to start the game off. We didn’t come out aggressive on the offensive end.”
Putting points on the board has always been the weak spot for this Syracuse team throughout the season and tonight against Dayton was no different. With eleven seconds remaining and Syracuse down one, Ennis took a rushed two-pointer from the top of the key and missed. SU could have held for the last shot but instead Ennis chose to try and extend the game.
Postgame Jim Boeheim had this to say about Ennis’s shot selection: “With 13 seconds to go we wanted to get it to Tyler and drive the ball. We’d just driven the ball for three baskets, and I don’t know why he settled for the jump shot. There was plenty of time. He had space. I’m not sure why.”
After the miss, Dayton’s Dyshawn Pierre grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled by Michael Gbinije. Pierre went to the line for two, hit his first free throw, and then missed his second with seven ticks on the clock. Rakeem Christmas grabbed Pierre’s miss and passed the ball up the court to Ennis. The Canadian rushed to Dayton’s half, pulled up for three… and missed.
It was all too similar to Syracuse’s game in Pittsburgh, except this time Ennis did not convert the game-winning shot and SU’s season is over. Unlike his first shot, Boeheim liked the last shot from Ennis : “The last shot was a great shot. That was the right play. A chance to win the game. You don’t have enough time to get to the basket.”
Every Syracuse loss has followed the same pattern this season. The Orange shoots below 40% and works hard defensively but ends up simply not scoring enough points. Boeheim’s squad has always been in games even when they struggle to shoot and tonight was no different.
Boeheim liked the looks his team got and was frustrated his team did not convert: “But we’ve got to be better on offense. You can give them credit and I think you should, but I look at the shots that we did get…I thought we got really good shots, I really did. …At some point in time you need to knock something down from the perimeter, and we didn’t. It was just not a good offensive game for us.”
Twice the Orange had excellent three point looks to either tie or win the game in the final moments but missed both. Syracuse ended up going 0-10 from deep. This early exit is definitely a disappointment after the Orange’s 25-0 start to the season. At one point this year, Syracuse was the best team in college basketball. The Orange came back down to Earth down the stretch however and finished the season losing six of nine. This SU team really is too good to be making a second round exit.
Seniors Fair and Baye Moussa Keita will graduate in May. Freshman Tyler Ennis and sophomore Jeremi Grant might also leave Syracuse after this season to enter the NBA draft. Neither player has made their decision but the Orange very well could lose three starters to the NBA.
But the future is still bright. A tremendous recruiting class will come to the Hill next season, led by power forward Chris McCullough. And Boeheim will once again have his sights in a Final Four.
Posted by: Connor Morrissette