Coleman picked a great day to show up for the Orange, because without him, this game wouldn’t have even been close. Tallying 11 points and 11 rebounds, Coleman carried the offense through the beginning of the second half when nobody else could score. Looking ahead to next season, Coleman will play a huge role anchoring the zone and giving some depth to a team that had none to spare this season.
Howard logged a strenuous 18 minutes in crunch time this afternoon. While Trevor Cooney was stapled to the bench for most of the second half, Howard ran the offense with ease. Although he only scored one point on a free throw, his five assists sparked SU’s offense when it was down double digits. Another important piece to next season’s team, Howard figures to backup Tyus Battle off the bench.
The fifth-year senior certainly didn’t deserve to go down like this. Gbinije put forth another huge effort, yet his teammates just couldn’t help him out. He scored 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting, despite Pitt knowing the ball was going through him on nearly every possession. He hit 4-of-6 from downtown including a clutch shot to close the gap in the final minutes. He’ll finish the season averaging 17.6 points per game.
Early in the first half, it was all three pointers. For a majority of the second half, it was all working into the paint. It seemed like the offense was working backwards this afternoon, as SU should’ve been working the paint in the first half and bombing threes late. If not for some late-game makes by Malachi Richardson and Gbinije, the team’s stat lines would look much, much worse. SU finished 10-for-19 from three and shot 47 percent from the field. In addition, Jim Boeheim’s plays coming out of timeouts today were just horrendous. Pitt had Syracuse’s number this year, going 3-0 against SU.
Good bye and good riddance, Trevor Cooney. Your nine points in 24 minutes were indicative of your time here at SU. And what could be more symbolic than a missed three pointer as time expired after being cold as could be off of the bench? Oh, and by the way, Cooney extended his streak of games-under-40-percent-shooting with a 3-for-8 performance today. He was outplayed by a true freshman off the bench who didn’t make a bucket, which really says something.
Where do we go from here? SU should be a shoo-in for the NIT in the event that it doesn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament. The Orange was listed as the last team in by Joe Lunardi, but that seems pretty hard to believe. The team dropped five of its last six games down the stretch when it really only needed one win to hit 20. The team’s eyes should be glued to the television on Sunday night, but don’t expect a tournament birth for this team that can’t finish.