Against Illinois, Judah Mintz took 16 shots. Here’s the first one he made.
Nobody really remembers the other two, because they were buried in a 73-44 Illinois beatdown of Syracuse. The Orange only scored 19 points in the second half on the way to their most brutal loss in eight years. The offense was awful, shooting close to 28% from the field. Mintz himself shot 19%, missing both of his threes and a bunch of contested hanging floaters which were really more line-drive prayers at the rim. He was also 3-6 at the charity stripe (the team was 9-17). Nobody else on the Orange. took over 9 shots.
So is this Mintz’s fault? No.
The box score is 100% accurate, but it tells lies at times. And Tuesday’s blowout was an example of such. The inefficiency, the missed free throws, the 5:4 assist/turnover ratio, none of it looks good. However, having been at the game myself, I can tell you that Mintz was taking those wild shots because he was the only player capable of creating a lick of separation from his defender. Joe Girard, Chris Bell, Benny Williams and Justin Taylor were close to zeros on the offensive end (and in JG3’s case, [should we be calling him JG0 now?] he was a zero.)
The root of this problem is Syracuse’s half court sets, or lack thereof. There are basically four calls in the Orange playbook.
- Wing Curl Screen for Joe
- Benny Elbow Isolation
- Jesse left block post up
- Screen and Roll
The first two plays were rendered ineffective in about the first five minutes once Illinois realized neither Girard nor Williams were going to drive. Edwards found some mismatches down low, but missed some gimmes in front of the rim.
So now we’re left with the pick and roll. You can’t run it every possession. So Judah took matters into his own hands. He’s got the most explosive first step on the squad, and he knows it. Of course, everyone would appreciate if Mintz picked and chose his spots to use it, but right now, the offense and the personnel surrounding him is forcing him to act like he’s carrying a squad full of pickup hoopers.
There are two ways to avoid this going forward. First, mix up the rotations, and get lineups that make sense and can properly run more plays. Second, install more plays! Teams like Colgate don’t make March Madness runs because they are better at iso ball. They run great offense, get their best players open shots, and execute. Nobody is expecting a team full of freshmen to be tourney ready right away, but there needs to be an identity. Right now, it’s praying for Judah to hit shots.
There’s only so much one man can do.