In recent years, Syracuse fans would have felt blessed with having three legitimate scoring options. But that’s the reality of the current Orange roster with Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett and Elijah Hughes. However, it’s been a rarity to see all three players have an efficient game at the same time. The Orange’s losses have especially been impacted by the lack of a three headed attack. Sitting at 6-2 with only a pair of losses to major conference teams on a neutral floor isn’t much to complain about. But that won’t last as the Orange moves deeper into its schedule and into ACC play.
After Tuesday’s win over Northeastern, Syracuse has three players averaging in double figures with Battle, Brissett and Hughes. But with only two of them shooting efficiently on any given night, there is still a lot of room for the offense to grow. Syracuse will be able to get away with a two-headed attack for the majority of the remainder of the non-conference slate. But when ACC play begins as well as a mid-December matchup with No. 17 Buffalo, problems could ensue.
After squeaking out a win over Cornell, Jim Boeheim said Elijah Hughes was benched for a long stretch because of his terrible play, but luckily enough Battle and Brissett were good enough to get the win. That won’t fly amongst the ACC’s elites.
By the time the Orange gets to conference play, as well as with the Bulls, they will be facing some of the best scoring offenses and the grittiest of defenses. Battle, Brissett and Hughes will all need to be their most efficient because as good of a scoring trio as they are, they will face even more prolific ones on both sides of the ball.
Frank Howard’s return has certainly rejuvenated the offense. The Orange’s four best shooting percentages have all come during the four games which the point guard has played. His return has been monumental to revive the team’s efficiency, despite the fact that Howard himself has not been an offensive weapon in terms of scoring. He will need to continue to facilitate and get all three parties involved.
The Orange’s big three doesn’t need to be combining for 60 points every single night, but they all need to be a threat on any given night. Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State all have at least three players who can light it up on any given night either offensively or lock down a team defensively. Syracuse needs to prove it belongs in that group with more consistent play. They have a good early season test with Buffalo, which should be a good barometer of how battle-ready this squad is for the conference slate.