Let’s rewind the clock a few weeks. Tyus Battle is coming off an exhibition against the College of St. Rose where he only mustered 7 points on 1-for-10 shooting. He’s off to another slow start in the Orange’s second preseason game of the year against crosstown rival Le Moyne. We ask Fizz Nation a simple question:
POLL: Is it still too early to be concerned about Tyus Battle?
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) November 1, 2018
Needless to say, those who weren’t ready to push the panic button on Battle let their voices be heard. Responses of “Are you joking” and “He’s playing out of position” were pretty common.
But then some of Battle’s preseason struggles started to leak over into the regular season. He scored only eight points in the season opener against Eastern Washington. In the first four games of the year, he shot just 40% from the field and 1-for-11 from beyond the three-point line.
Yes, he had to take on a bulk of the ballhandling duties with Frank Howard still on the shelf, but he looked less aggressive, less in tune than he had the year before. He looked less confident and sure of himself. At times, he even looked a bit discombobulated. He did not look like the dominant and energetic Tyus Battle Syracuse fans had come to know and love. Oh how the tides have turned.
No surprises here. Tyus Battle named ACC POW after a pair of dominant performances. Scoring was impressive, but how about the efficiency. 6️⃣5️⃣% shooting in the last three games after starting the season at 40%. Dude is on 🔥🔥🔥. https://t.co/R8iDqIYqxg
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) December 3, 2018
After putting up an average of 23 points and 4 rebounds per game in wins over Ohio State and Cornell last week, Battle was named the ACC’s Player of the Week on Monday afternoon and it’s hard to argue with the conference’s selection considering the three-game stretch that Battle has put together of late.
Ever since the Orange’s disastrous trip to New York City, Battle has looked like a whole new player. When you factor in the win against Colgate plus the last two games, Battle is averaging more than 23 points and 3 rebounds a contest. In that Colgate game alone, Battle poured in 24 points on 8-of-10 shooting and he only played in 26 minutes. The man nearly scored a point in every minute he was on the floor.
That Colgate performance also helps underscore the even more impressive part about Battle’s stretch of form. Prior to that Colgate game, Battle was shooting just a tick over 40% from the field. Three games later, he’s upped that percentage to over 50% and has shot 65% in the last three games alone. He has become far more efficient and far more effective. He is starting to instill fear in defenses much like he did throughout last season. He’s becoming very difficult to stop.
And what’s the common denominator throughout these last three games, you ask. Well, Frank Howard made his season debut against Colgate and has played in at least 24 minutes in every game since.
When Howard is on the floor, Battle can move off the ball where he is so much more dangerous and effective. Instead of having to facilitate and run the offense, Battle can get himself into positions where he can exploit one-on-one matchups and be more aggressive on the offensive end. He can put himself into spots where open jumpers are the norm. Simply put, when Howard is running the show, Battle is a much better and more efficient basketball player.
Now, that’s not to say this sudden uptick in production is all a result of Howard’s presence on the floor. The mentality has also seemingly changed for Battle in the last few weeks. He’s been more aggressive in getting the ball into the lane and finishing around the basket. Once he establishes that ability and the defense sags off to allow a bit more room for error, he pulls up and hits jump shots that he simply wasn’t making in the preseason or the first four games of the regular season.
His shooting stroke looks so much more confident and refined (73% from beyond the arc in the last three games). He’s pushing the ball more in transition and is more aggressive on the offensive end. He’s playing with a confidence and swagger we just didn’t see in the earlier part of the season. He’s looking like the NBA player that many experts believe that he can be. He’s looking like the Tyus Battle all Syracuse fans have come to know and love.
Welcome back, Tyus. Take off your jacket and stay awhile because Orange Nation is glad to have the real you back.