Two days ago, I told you Syracuse needed to work on its ability to spread out the ball, shoot and score consistently, and learn how to play a full 40 minutes of basketball; all three of which the Orange has struggled to do in the 2016-2017 campaign. Now that the game’s over, let’s take a look at how they did in those categories as well as a few more.
Sharing The Ball: A
Let’s start with the positives. Before Syracuse tipped off against Boston Saturday, I tweeted this stat out:
.@Cuse_MBB has averaged 21 assists per game in wins this season. In it's losses? 9. NINE.
— Nathan Dickinson (@Ned10002) December 9, 2016
If you ask me, those numbers are pretty cut-and-dry. When Syracuse is passing the ball well, it wins. When SU doesn’t, it loses. When the Orange trailed early to Boston, those numbers held true. BU led 20-12 over seven minutes into the game, and Syracuse only had one assist as a team. In the ensuing 11-3 run which brought the game back to a tie, all four of Syracuse’s field goals were assisted. The Orange never trailed in the game again, and SU finished with 24 assists as a team (its second-highest total of the season).
Syracuse saw what was going wrong and fixed it. Normally I wouldn’t give a Syracuse team which trailed to Boston University an A in any category, but SU’s ability to switch gears quickly was impressive.
Again, hard to give Syracuse an A in this category. If you take out the first 10 minutes of the game, the Orange was extremely consistent. Syracuse shot better than 50 percent from the field and hit 44 percent of its threes. However, for every bright spot in Syracuse’s lineup it seemed like there was a shortcoming to match.
Frank Howard racked up 11 assists in the win, but shot 0-5 from the field and ended with 6 points.
Pascal Chukwu contributed three rebounds, three blocks, and two vicious dunks in only 10 minutes on the floor, but went 0-2 from the charity stripe and still hasn’t made a free throw all season.
Taurean Thompson continued to emerge as an offensive presence with 22 points on 10-13 shooting, but Tyler Lydon continued to struggle in breaking out, scoring just 10 points.
John Gillon scored 23 and shot 78 percent, but Tyus Battle scored 7 and shot 25 percent.
If Syracuse gets everyone playing with some consistency, the Orange has the ability to compete with any team in the nation. But if the question is whether or not Syracuse played the 40 minutes of strong basketball it will need to beat “insert ACC team here,” the answer is still no.
One statistic I chose not to mention before the Boston game now needs to be shared. In its last five games (starting with SU’s first loss to South Carolina), the Orange hasn’t outrebounded a single team. Against Boston yesterday, the Terriers earned a 42-38 advantage on the boards. Being outrebounded by four in a game SU won by over 20 doesn’t concern me, but where the rebounds are coming from does.
Boston got 17 offensive rebounds Saturday, which led to 18 second-chance points. Syracuse gives up 12 offensive boards to opponents per game, which is ranked No. 339 in the nation among college teams, according to TeamRankings.com. The 2-3 zone is a great defense when you run it as well as Jim Boeheim does, immediately becomes vulnerable once you allow teams to get the ball inside (which is exactly what an offensive rebound does).
If there’s one glaring issue with this Syracuse team, rebounding is it.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson