Nobody thought it would come down to one shot. We Are D3, ranked 68th in The Basketball Tournament field of 68 by an ESPN article, nearly ended Boeheim’s Army’s run in the first round. A Jordan Crawford walk-off free throw closed a 68-65 victory for the home favorites. What was expected to be a homecoming beatdown turned into a thriller at SRC Arena in Syracuse.
1. Jordan Crawford Swung it
Out of 11 players on the Boeheim’s Army roster, only one never played for Syracuse. Jordan Crawford was a “special addition,” as Eric Devendorf put it after the game. As the most NBA-tested player on the roster outside of Hakim Warrick, Crawford is expected to make a major impact. In the first half, he completely flopped. The Orange ended the frame down two points, and the only player who never wore Orange was 1/6 from the field. Twitter was not very supportive of the new addition, to put it lightly. Sure enough, Crawford turned it around in the second half in a major way. He was the only guard giving Army production down the stretch. The performance was sparked by a 3/3 run from beyond the arc in the third quarter, which included a four-point play. Crawford finished with a team-leading 17 points. What a rollercoaster it was.
2. Elam Ending is Great
The clock is not your friend with the elam ending. Up 60-56, Boeheim’s Army was tasked with reaching 68 points. Strap in. We Are D3 was finding open threes at will, so it was apparent Army would need to score in a hurry. The first four Army points were scored off beautifully designed in-bounds plays. Full marks to Ryan Blackwell for that. Sure enough, We Are D3 was in hot pursuit, also nearing the winning number 68. Devendorf free throws tallied the next two points for Army. Then Hakim Warrick was fouled with a chance to clinch it. He nailed the first. Not the second. We played on. After Crawford missed a pull-up two for the win, We Are D3 scored to get within three points of victory. Army needed a bucket. A disastrous offensive possession resulted in Crawford getting trapped. The D3 defenders got overzealous and fouled Crawford despite his entirely nonthreatening position. D3 was in the bonus, so Crawford went to the line. He missed the first. This was the second.
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) July 27, 2019
The tension was incredible. Elam ending, take a bow.
3. The Army will need to Step it Up
“None of us thought we played good the whole game. It was just about grinding it out,” Crawford said. Good certainly wouldn’t be a good description. We Are D3 led 26-15 at the end of the first quarter. The zone defense was so flat-footed, Blackwell switched to man early on. Warrick and Arinze Onuaku clearly had the muscle inside, but they couldn’t finish. That changed in the second half, with the big men ultimately carrying Army, along with Crawford. Boeheim’s Army gave up 14 offensive rebounds in total. When Blackwell’s defense had strong stretches, it was more a product of D3 good looks. Overall, the guard play needs to be more consistent and the defensive end needs to be way better if Boeheim’s Army is going to escape the regional in Syracuse. Next up is Gael Nation, alumni of the Iona Gaels.