No lengthy introduction is needed here ‚Äî let‚Äôs get to the point. Syracuse basketball has been a disappointment so far this season. But you don‚Äôt need to be an optimist (although I am one) to see that this SU team can still turn it around.
And the revival of a so far questionable season can begin tonight.
Despite the loss to Georgetown on Saturday, which was Syracuse‚Äôs first home loss of the year, the Orange took a step in the right direction.
First, the Orange scored in the paint (36 points). One of the key factors in SU‚Äôs losses against South Carolina, Wisconsin and UConn was the Orange‚Äôs inability to score close to the net. Syracuse scored only eight points in the paint against South Carolina, 18 against Wisconsin and eight against UConn. Seeing SU score more than half their points in the paint in a close game is a sign of improvement, despite the loss.
Second, Tyler Lydon showed some life again. Averaging just 9.9 points per game before Saturday, Lydon scored a team high 29 points against Georgetown. To be a leader the team needs and to give the Orange offense the boost it is looking for, Lydon has to keep performing well.
Tonight Syracuse plays Eastern Michigan, a team the Orange has only lost to once (in 1996, by three points, 68-65). Syracuse only gave up 48 points to the Eagles in the three games against them since, winning 84-48 in 2011, 84-48 in 2012 and 70-48 in 2013.
Eastern Michigan has not been an NCAA Tournament team since 1998 where they were the #4 seed and lost in the Round of 64. The Eagles are currently 6-4 in the Mid-American West Division.
Tonight‚Äôs game against Eastern Michigan is a quick turnaround from Georgetown on Saturday. The Orange have a chance to work off the momentum they built and earn a W tonight. Once Syracuse is back on that right track, SU can clean up its game and work to end 2016 on a high note against St. John‚Äôs and Cornell.
Then the Orange can have a fresh head as Syracuse plays to prove itself in the meat of its schedule through a string of 18 ACC games that begins in January.
The push has to begin somewhere, and tonight‚Äôs matchup is as good as any for Syracuse to start moving in the right direction once again.