No one can say Syracuse basketball is a bad first half team. On the contrary, the Orange are actually an outstanding first half team. They start games oozing energy and confidence. Buddy Boeheim, Elijah Hughes or Joe Girard usually heat up in the first and get the SU faithful excited. But the problem with this team this year is the second half of games, especially recently.
- 80-77 loss vs. Florida State– Syracuse was only down one with ten seconds left
- 79-74 loss vs. NC State– Syracuse gave up a six point lead in the second half
- 75-73 win vs. Wake Forest– Syracuse squeaked by after being up by 16 in the second
- 97-88 loss vs. Duke– Syracuse was only down by four at halftime
- 71-70 loss vs. Clemson– Syracuse let go of a ten-point second half lead
The list continues to go on with games that were close down the stretch because of Syracuse’s inability to perform in the second half. Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame again, Virginia Tech again. All of these games, whether they ended as wins or losses for SU, did not have to be as close as they were. The Orange are only losing by an average of five points in their seven ACC losses.
There are plenty of places to point to for causing this issue. A lack of the clutch gene, youth and inexperience, only one true go-to option at the end, lackluster defense. All are valid points, but when it comes down to it, the real reason is the SU big men. It seems like all of the problems with this team comes back to them, but it’s true.
First, the big men are plain outright bad. Besides Marek Dolezaj, the Orange don’t have an inside presence. Plus, Dolezaj is small in comparison to other ACC big men, which doesn’t help. Bourama Sidibe and Quincy Guerrier just don’t do much on the offensive end or defensive. Guerrier has improved a little bit recently, but he is still not where he has to be to handle conference foes.
Plus, the big men are constantly in foul trouble, especially down the stretch of games. That forces Jim Boeheim’s hand and makes him go with different lineups. Those new lineups and different faces in the game ultimately lead to Syracuse struggling in the second half.
The entire blame doesn’t rest solely on the big men’s shoulders, but a lot of it does. Whatever Boeheim is saying in the locker room at halftime needs to change. The team needs to figure out the second half and do it quickly, because there isn’t much season left. Cardiac Cuse is alive and well this year and not in a good way.