For the first time in months orange jerseys were standing in a 2-3 zone today. The wait for live basketball is officially over for Syracuse fans. In its Sweet Sixteen game against Men of Mackey, Boeheim‚Äôs Army grabbed a 76-69 win.
It was an up and down game for the Syracuse-alumni team. So, let’s break out the pen and pencils and put on our teacher hats to grade the game. Here is our report card for Boeheim‚Äôs Army after their first game:
Here‚Äôs a simple explanation of Boeheim‚Äôs Army‚Äôs offense: guard brings the ball up, makes one pass, player goes one-on-one and forces up a contested shot. The amount of possessions that there were more than three passes can probably be counted on one hand. That‚Äôs not great. The offense was completely dependent on iso-ball and hitting threes, which wasn‚Äôt working as they shot only 4-21 from deep. The only reliable options Boeheim‚Äôs Army had was Malachi Richardson and Eric Devendorf (see below). Donte Greene finished with 16 points, but was only 3-12 from the field. He wasn‚Äôt passing and was trying to take step-back, fadeaway corner threes. The offense stalled in the second half and didn‚Äôt really have an answer. If Boeheim‚Äôs Army wants to make a run in this tournament, they need to start working together on offense.
The zone did what it usually does. You could tell that Men of Mackey couldn‚Äôt figure it out in the first half, but then in the second they did and that‚Äôs why it became a close game. The guards were active at the top and got a lot of steals, especially down the stretch. Plus, the wings, including newcomer Will Rayman (see below), got out on shooters for the majority of the game. There were times that the defense seemed a little lackadaisical, but for the most part the defense was Boeheim‚Äôs Army‚Äôs strength on Tuesday.
Rebounding is Boeheim‚Äôs Army‚Äôs biggest weakness this year. Players, opposing teams, and fans all know this. The rebounding battle ended 32-36 in favor of Men of Mackey, which isn‚Äôt horrible for Boeheim‚Äôs Army, especially when you take into account Isaac Haas was on the other team. Greene played well on the boards and the wings made it a point to crash the glass. Before today‚Äôs game, rebounding probably would have been a C-. So it improved a little bit, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
WILL RAYMAN: A-
Boeheim‚Äôs Army picked up Colgate‚Äôs Will Rayman after Tyler Lydon and Chris McCullough dropped out of the tournament. A lot of people were worried about losing those two, but Rayman stepped in and really impressed in their first game. He was a spark off the bench with all of his effort. Rayman didn‚Äôt stuff the stat sheet, but he had a lot of heart and it seemed like he was trying to prove something as the new guy. I mean, look at this effort:
Rayman isn‚Äôt going to be a starter, but he‚Äôs a really good option off the bench, especially when playing on the wing of the zone.
MALACHI RICHARDSON: B
Before the tournament started, Malachi Richardson was touted as a possible Tournament MVP candidate. A lot is expected of him and sure, he looked good against Men of Mackey, but he didn‚Äôt look great. Richardson finished with 15 points and grabbed three rebounds. What he did well was attack the basket. Nine of his points came from the stripe after he got to the inside and drew a foul. The thing that he could work on is his defensive presence and being a leader on the team. Boeheim‚Äôs Army could benefit greatly from Richardson calling for the ball more and taking over the offense. When the offense stalled in the third and fourth quarters, that is when they needed him to score. Again, Richardson wasn‚Äôt bad, but knowing the amount of talent he has, he could be much better.
ERIC DEVENDORF: A
I‚Äôll say it– Eric Devendorf is as good now as he was in college. I don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs even a bold take to say that he‚Äôs better. Devendorf went off for 20 points on 9-14 shooting. He was a leader on and off the court. You could hear him coaching in the huddle during timeouts and see him encouraging his teammates in the middle of plays. Plus, Devendorf was cash from deep and used the floater and pull-up to perfection when the defense over committed. Simply put, he was the best player on the court. Devendorf was a big reason for Boeheim‚Äôs Amry‚Äôs win and will be needed in the next couple rounds.