No one likes excuse makers. This post does not intend to bash the NCAA or place blame on the SU coaching staff (although I’m not sure how you could). The goal is to show that with one more competent big man, SU would have been a definite NCAA Tournament team this year.
In Syracuse’s 12 losses this season, the Orange has been outrebounded ten times. The only time the Orange outrebounded an opponent in a loss came against UNC at the Dome, a team Jim Boeheim said does not box out. SU grabbed the same amount of rebounds as Miami in the Orange’s early January loss.
An additional big man to give Syracuse a few more possessions in some of the team’s tightly contested losses would have transformed this ‘Cuse team.
Look at the December Wisconsin defeat for example. The Badgers grabbed 26 more rebounds than Syracuse including 15 offensive boards. This led to an SU loss in overtime. One additional big man swings that game in the Orange’s favor.
In Syracuse’s game against Pittsburgh a few weeks later, the Orange was outrebounded by 18. The Panthers went on to win by 11, but with three minutes to play the SU deficit was just a single point. Another game where an improved post presence would have given SU a major lift.
Last time out against Florida State is another prime example. The ‘Noles torched SU on the glass recording 17 more rebounds than the Orange in a five point win.
What’s frustrating is that in the summer of 2014, it looked like Syracuse had two physically imposing big men in its 2015 recruiting class, Moustapha Diagne and Thomas Bryant. Diagne did not qualify in time to come to SU and Bryant chose Indiana over Syracuse where he is averaging just under 12 points and six rebounds per game.
SU goes to battle with Pittsburgh for the third time this season Wednesday in the ACC Tournament. A win and Syracuse is most likely in the NCAA Tournament. The main concern for the Orange though is that the Panthers are the eleventh best rebounding team in the nation.
Posted: Connor Morrissette