It feels good to be back.
Syracuse basketball kicked off its regular season Friday night against Lehigh in a game that, if we’re being honest, everyone thought would be a blowout win. It wasn’t. Sure, Syracuse beat Lehigh 57-47 Friday, and at the very least the game gave Syracuse fans a break from the depressing run the football team is on. But the Orange showed early and often that there are still some kinks that need to be worked out with this team. Here are three things to take away from Syracuse’s first game.
Wow, That Was A Lot of Threes
Let’s start with the three-point shooting, shall we? Syracuse put up shots from downtown at unprecendented rates during the exhibition games, and the Orange continued to lean on the long ball against the Mountain Hawks. The Orange took 34 shots from behind the arc, With Malachi Richardson, Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney all putting up nine from distance. Syracuse ended up shooting 32.4 percent, but Jim Boeheim said 34 three-pointers isn’t too many, and even if it was the Orange doesn’t have anywhere else to go offensively.
“If we get 30 good threes, which we did tonight… I think, with this team, we can make 15 or 16 of them,” Boeheim said.
“We don’t have another option,” Boeheim later added when asked about all the threes. “That’s the best option for us, that shot.”
Turning the Ball Over Is Still A Problem
Living and dying by the long ball isn’t something Syracuse fans are used to, but trouble holding onto the ball is. Lehigh only shot 29 percent from the field Friday, but scored 21 of its 47 points off of turnovers. The Orange gave up the ball 17 times, and if Lehigh had been able to make shots with any consistency it could have easily pulled off an upset.
“[I was] being careleess with the ball,” said Richardson, who led the team with five turnovers. “Something I can improve on for sure, just making better decisions with the ball.”
The perimeter trio of Cooney, Gbinije and Richardson (also known as the guys who are supposed to be able to hold onto the ball) gave the ball away 13 times.
Foul Trouble Could Lose Syracuse Games
It took four minutes and 55 seconds for Dajuan Coleman to pick up his first two fouls of the 2015 season, and he’d sit the rest of the first half. Chino Obokoh replaced Coleman, and while he can be a good placeholder for when Coleman needs rest, he isn’t good for much else. Two more fouls in the second half led to Coleman only playing 13 minutes, while Obokoh went 28 minutes before fouling out. The Orange is already a thin team at the center position, and the 2-3 makes the spot prone to fouls. The Orange is going to be in trouble when other teams attack the 2-3 zone and get Syracuse’s only big guys out of the game.
Maybe some of what we saw Friday was just first game jitters, but let’s just say Jim Boeheim won’t be short on things to work on in practice tomorrow.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson