Tuesday night was one of the biggest roller coasters we’ve ever seen in a Syracuse Basketball game. Cardiac ‘Cuse is real folks, now more than ever. The Orange upended Colgate 79-75 on Tuesday, snapping a two-game losing skid against the Raiders. There was a lot to like and a lot to dislike. So should this game be a confidence booster going forward?
It was a tale of two halves offensively, so much so to the point where we may have been watching two different teams over the course of the game. The first 20 minutes (and the first few of the second too) were a showing of some of the worst offensive basketball you could ask for. Multiple contested three-pointers and long twos (even worse) not even halfway through the shot clock. The second half was a different story, as Syracuse’s athletic players went downhill and attacked the basket, and wings like Chris Bell and Justin Taylor knocked down both open and timely three-pointers. If you want to look at how the Orange should operate offensively for the rest of the season, look no further than last night’s second half.
Defensively, there are still issues to be sorted out with both the man-to-man and the zone defense, particularly at the center position, but what we saw in the second half was a thing of beauty. The full court press worked wonders as the Orange rallied back, rattling Colgate in both its half court and full court games. Honestly, it made you wonder where it was throughout the first half. Running a full court press over a full 40 minutes is a tough ask so we probably won’t see it, but Adrian Autry would be well served to use it in the first half more often, especially if SU is falling behind early. It’s a great way to throw a team off its rhythm and get back into games quickly.
As great as those two looks were, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Syracuse was down by 24 points at one instance to Colgate. It looked like last night would become the third and worst loss in a string of embarrassing losses to the Raiders, and the Orange let the same things beat them that have beaten them the last two years. Colgate’s three-point barrage and hustle on the glass was to be expected, but no adjustments were made to stop it until the second half. That’s the game Matt Langel has had his team playing for years now, and Autry’s bunch let it beat them again. The rally back was a lot of fun, but there’s still a lingering feeling of “really?”
You could say last night boosted your confidence or detracted from it, and either way you’d have a pretty fair argument. There’s a lot the Orange can build from last night, and there’s a lot they need to work on here and now ahead of an extremely challenging Maui Invitational.