Syracuse is coming off one of its ugliest losses of the season in which they were dominated by Louisville in pretty much ever facet of the game, none more so than in the paint. The Cardinals outscored the Orange in the paint 50-20. Louisville is the bigger, stronger and more athletic team and it showed up on the stat line. Getting completely bullied in the paint also led to Louisville out-rebounding Syracuse 41-30, grabbing 14 offensive boards in the process.
There is no doubt that Syracuse has to do some things differently if they want to bounce back against their old Big East Rivals, Pitt, on Saturday.
The Orange have benefited from strong play from its their freshmen this year. Malachi Richadrson and Tyler Lydon have played crucial roles all season, and in the past couple of weeks, Frank Howard has proven himself a legitimate backup point guard. However, against Louisville, who came out with something to prove, all three were less than impressive. Richardson and Lydon combined to shoot 4-16 from the field.
There is no way around it. Syracuse needs more from them. Wednesday, they may have just been showing growing pains. I don’t think it is going out on too much of a limb to say that Richardson is the most talented player on the team and that Tyler Lydon has a great shooting touch. As such, there isn’t much the Orange can or should change here. Let the freshmen shoot and more often than not, the team is rewarded.
The bigger, more pressing issue, is rebounding. Since Boeheim’s return, the rebounding issue seemed to be abated but it reared its ugly head in a brutal fashion against Louisville. Now, the Orange have to face one of the best rebounding teams in the ACC, Pitt. One can argue about how many minutes DaJaun Coleman should play, or whether or not Lydon should play center, but with Syracuse, rebounding is synonymous with Tyler Roberson.
Roberson has the ability to win games for the Orange with his rebounding. For evidence, look no further than when he grabbed 20 rebounds against Duke, 12 on the offensive glass. The Orange will need him to step up again against the Panthers as they need to limit the Panthers’ second-chance opportunities.
Saturday is a pivotal game for the Orange. With only four games to go and sitting on eight conference wins, every game is crucial for the Orange in terms of seeding in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments and the Orange need to bounce back big time to down a familiar foe.