The Orange will conclude the non-conference portion of its schedule at 2:00 this afternoon in the Dome. SU will play host to Texas Southern, a lowly 1-9 team out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Safe to say, if the Orange drops this game, there will be huge problems heading into the conference opener vs. Pitt on Wednesday night. With an easy game ahead, Coach Hopkins and the Orange have a couple wrinkles to iron out.
Rebounding, Rebounding, Rebounding
The first, and most important, thing for SU to work through is the rebounding woes. To this point, SU has looked like a fantastic rebounding team in the Bahamas versus Connecticut and Texas A&M, but has also looked downright terrible against weaker teams like St. John’s and Wisconsin. Syracuse is going to have to find an identity under the hoop, and it’s about time to do so. Only six players on the Tigers’ roster have played in at least nine of the team’s ten games, and freshman Derrick Griffin is the team’s leading rebounder. The problem? Griffin is only listed at 6-foot-7. The team’s second leading rebounder is just 6-foot-5. Look for Dajuan Coleman, Tyler Roberson, and company to hopefully have a field day on the boards.
Three Point Consistency
Entering the season, Jim Boeheim said that the Orange would live and die by the three ball. Syracuse has both lived and died by the three, but in the past few games, it has begun to work on scoring inside. Malachi Richardson and Michael Gbinije have done a great job filling the lane and getting to the hoop, but if SU can do that in addition to knocking down three pointers, the offense will be hard to beat. In the last two games, the Orange has shot a combined 14-46 (30 percent) from behind the arc. That will need to improve if the team wants to have any shot at cracking the AP Poll again this season. Trevor Cooney needs to find his stroke and be more efficient from the perimeter, like he was during a huge run against Montana State last week. The Cooney that hits less than a quarter of his threes certainly will not do.
Solidify the Rotation
It’s been a pretty sloppy process figuring out the non-conference rotation. With two coaches and a handful of new faces, it seems like every game there is a new cycle of players coming off of the bench. One thing is for sure: the fab five will be Gbinije, Cooney, Roberson, Lydon, and Richardson, who are all averaging over 30 minutes per game. Other than that, it remains to be seen how many minutes Coleman will play, if Kaleb Joseph or Franklin Howard will be the first guard off of the bench, and when, if ever, Chinoso Obokoh will see the floor (probably never). Hopkins, and eventually Boeheim, needs to figure this out ASAP.