Syracuse basketball can’t shoot three-pointers this year. It could be the downfall of this team.
This isn’t just because of a bad shooting performance against North Carolina. This isn’t because of a few-game slump. This is a systemic problem that has existed since the start of the season, and there aren’t any concrete steps to fix it other than recruiting.
First, let’s look at where SU stacks up against the rest of the country. The Orange shoot 31.5% from behind the arc. That ranks 270th out of 351 Division I teams and 13th out of 15 ACC teams. It also ranks among the 12 worst Power 6 teams. Simply put, Syracuse doesn’t shoot well within the context of the current landscape of college basketball.
This season is also unimpressive when compared to what the program has done in the past. SU’s current 31.5% clip is the team’s worst mark since 2014-15. It’s just the second time Syracuse basketball has shot that poorly since 2004-05. So even within the Orange’s recent history, this is a notably bad stretch.
As bad as this is, it isn’t too surprising. Relying on just two guys to hit three-pointers consistently isn’t sustainable, especially when that duo isn’t particularly consistent.
Chris Bell has been solid, but streaky, shooting a total 38.1% from behind the arc. Keep in mind that he’s made one or no three-pointers in half of his games. Still, the bigger issue has been with Justin Taylor, whose main strength is supposed to be his shooting stroke. The sophomore is averaging 31.8% on triples, including a 1/8 stretch over the last four games.
Beyond those two players, who are the “shooters” in most of SU’s lineups, the Orange have been just as weak from deep as expected. Judah Mintz is hitting 35% of his threes, but that’s on pretty low volume, with just one three-pointer made per game. JJ Starling wasn’t efficient last year at Notre Dame, and it’s no better this time around, as he’s making less than a quarter of his triples.
If Syracuse basketball has important, close games this year, then it will need to hit some big shots. As of now, the team hasn’t proven it’s capable of doing that.