Syracuse is set to begin the part of its schedule that really matters and there were plenty of takeaways from the first part of the season. As such, there are plenty of things that Orange fans should be looking for as Syracuse begins its ACC schedule against Pitt on Wednesday.
The Improvement of DaJuan Colmean
To say that the big man got off to a slow start this season would certainly be an understatement. He looked lethargic and out of place in many of Syracuse’s games early this season. The first part of his season could be summarized by the game against Wisconsin, which he started, and played a total of five minutes. However, things are definitely improving Coleman. In Syracuse’s most recent game, against Texas Southern, Coleman went 4-5 from the field, putting up 14 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes. Though the game was against an inferior opponent, it is certainly a positive sign that Coleman has begun to look more comfortable with each passing game.
The Hot and Cold Hand of Malachi Richardson
Malachi Richardson came out of the gate flying in his college career. His hot shooting played a huge part in Syracuse’s victory at the Battle 4 Atlantis. He seemed to be the leader of the new-look, three point heavy, Syracuse offense. Since then, however, it has been little short of ugly for the freshman. The last five to seven games, Richardson has certainly been in a funk. Against St. John’s he went 0-11 from three and 4-20 from the field. Since that game, his shooting has gotten better, though not by much, and is definitely not at the level it was in the first weeks of the season. Syracuse will certainly need Richardson to find his shooting touch if they want to make a splash in conference play.
Syracuse’s Woeful Foul Shooting
This is probably the thing that has frustrated and will continue to frustrate Syracuse fans the most. Syracuse is shooting 68% from the line through its first 13 games. Obviously, that is not good, but what makes it worse is that it seems that the missed free throws come when the Orange need them most. Against Wisconsin, a close game all the way that was eventually decided in overtime, the Orange shot 55% from the line. Against St. John’s, the Orange managed to get to the line 31 times. They only made 19, which was good for 61%. Syracuse absolutely needs to figure something out when it comes to foul shooting. Some of Syracuse’s most important players, namely Roberson and Gbinije, are needed on the floor late in the game and struggle from the free throw line.
Of course, there are other storylines to watch. Probably the biggest one excluded from the above list is Syracuse’s rebounding struggles. However, that could just be a shortcoming of the 2-3 zone. The Orange have always conceded a lot of offensive rebounds and there is little reason to think that anything will change.