We interrupt you in the midst of all ongoing National Signing Day buzz… to let you know there was a Syracuse basketball game at the Carrier Dome, this evening.
SU took on Northeastern in a home matchup that, despite walking out of victorious, likely could have gone better than it did. The Orange walked out just six-point winners, over a visiting Huskies side that refused to fall out of contention. SU was given a run for its money – with a lead as small as two points at the 2:10 mark. Better yet, Northeastern was ahead in this one more than halfway through the second half.
Head coach Jim Boeheim knows the Orange’s performance was underwhelming, and he acknowledged that plenty of work still needs to be done – for SU to get where it wants to be. One primary source of frustration today, cited by Boeheim (but also serving as a proverbial elephant in the room) was the performance turned in from newcomer Alan Griffin.
Coming in after three straight games with at least 20 points, Griffin went scoreless in the Orange’s win over Northeastern – in an 0-for-4 outing from the field (and 0-for-3 from three). Presumably, it was not what fans, nor anyone inside the SU locker room expected to see – given the ability Griffin has showed to possess, since his arrival at SU.
“Alan [Griffin] stood and watched the whole game on both ends of the court,” said Boeheim. “There’s no excuse for him to play like that. He’s way too good a player,” he added.
Boeheim’s words make perfect sense, and the proof of that sits right in the numbers. Griffin came into today ranked first on the team in scoring and fifth in the entire ACC. So, an off outing, let alone a scoreless outing, can certainly be chalked up as a bit of a head scratcher. Nevertheless, there are no signs that point to this game being anything more than a fluke… an off-night, of sorts. That being said, Griffin’s next opportunity to right the ship will be against Buffalo, this coming Saturday.
Another dud laid by a key member of the Orange today was from Buddy Boeheim. The junior had just two points, on 1-of-12 shooting (0-of-3 from three), and just didn’t look comfortable throughout – another elephant in the room addressed by Coach [Jim] Boeheim in the postgame presser.
“I thought Buddy got some good shots. I just don’t think he got his rhythm,” said Coach Boeheim.
Now, despite the negatives, and the rather underwhelming nature of Syracuse’s victory, there were still some positives – able to be drawn from today’s contest. With Bourama Sidibe sidelined, Quincy Guerrier has slid into the 4 spot with Marek Dolezaj at the 5. In SU’s win over Northeastern this afternoon, Guerrier tallied 18 points (on 6-of-10 shooting) and an impressive 16 rebounds – seven of which came on the offensive glass. With double-digit scoring outings in every game this season, Guerrier seems have clearly made considerable strides, between his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
“I’m just more confident this year,” says Guerrier… and it’s certainly shown, up to this point.
Elsewhere for Syracuse, when looking down the line, Joe Girard is another name worthy of some praise. The sophomore led the Orange in scoring with 21 points, to go along with a whopping six steals. Additionally, the Orange received 14 points from Dolezaj at the 5, as well as one other solid performance worth mentioning.
Freshman Kadary Richmond scored only five points, but – as Jim Boeheim was quick to note – made his presence felt on the defensive side.
Moving forward, Syracuse will have to be crisper than it was today – if it wants to match widely-held expectations. For one, the Orange knows it can’t expect to win often without receiving contributions from Griffin or [Buddy] Boeheim. Luckily, there was light at the end of the tunnel today, for the Orange, who improved to 5-1 on the young season. However, a more formidable opponent – than the one from this afternoon – now lurks on the horizon. Buffalo will make its way to The Dome this coming weekend, fresh off a blowout victory on the road over Miami (OH).
All told, Saturday’s matchup against the Bulls will not only be a chance for this year’s team prove its worth in the early going, but it will also be a prime opportunity for a few of SU’s top players to bounce back.