Yesterday was a day for Syracuse fans to forget. The Orange went to Littlejohn Coliseum with a chance to make a statement to the NCAA tournament committee. The conclusion that the committee, and anyone else that watched, probably drew, was SU is not a team deserving of a bid to the Big Dance.
Syracuse lost in horrific fashion. The final score was 78-61, but those numbers are inflated by a lot of empty calorie scoring from the Orange in the second half. In the first 20 minutes, there was no SU scoring. Jim Boeheim’s team only made three first half field goals. THREE. This was by far Syracuse’s worst offensive performance since the Virginia game in 2019, and to be honest, the overall context of this game makes it even worse.
The Fizz Twitter, instead of questions, asked for answers, because I’m out of them at this point. Let’s see what you guys had to say.
Let’s address the three-point shooting first. It’s bad. Syracuse is shooting just 32.6% from behind the arc in ACC play. Joe Girard and Alan Griffin are making 34 of their threes, which is the average three-point shooting percentage in the NBA. However, these guys are volume shooters. They’re making two of every six threes, and a guard-predicated offense which is prone to bad shot selection can’t have players chucking because they feel like it. Girard and Griffin are both known chuckers at this point, and while have their highs and lows, it’s obvious that some of the shots they take are not the best available
However, Girard and Griffin aren’t the statistical marvel of the Orange (if you want to call it that). Buddy Boeheim is at a career-low 32% from the field and 29% from deep. There’s no saving the season for Boeheim at this point. The COVID pauses have obviously affected his rhythm, but he’s had enough time and plenty of chances to shoot his way out of this slump. Plenty of Orange fans have already tweeted in frustration that Buddy isn’t a talented enough player to compete in the ACC. For the second year in a row, the numbers are starting to back that up. Also, let’s stop with “Buddy is too white.” Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome, white dudes that could shoot the heck out of the rock and weren’t amazing defensively, torched everyone in the ACC and won a national title.
Syracuse doesn’t have an emotional leader this year. Griffin hasn’t been around the program for long enough, JG3 and Buddy just haven’t had the kind of seasons to step into that role. Quincy Guerrier has faded away in the big games. However, I don’t even think that’s anywhere close to this team’s main problem.
And to the last point about coaching, it wouldn’t have mattered who was coaching Syracuse yesterday. The team got thoroughly outplayed. But this results are an indictment of Jim Boeheim’s recruiting failures over the past couple of years. He’s really struggled to bring in players that are good fits for the zone defense who can also play his isolation style of offense. Oh, and centers.