I don't have to tell you that Syracuse has had a very rough go of things of late, and that a lot (but not all) of that falls on the offense's inability to put the ball in the basket. That's the story, and we've accepted it based on a few data points and losing four out of five.
But luckily, Dylan Burkhardt dove into this issue of "What's Wrong with Syracuse?" a whole lot more today over on his new site, ShotAnalytics.com. And the results were equal parts surprising, disturbing and eye-opening.
First up, the dreaded "points per possession" drop-off. After putting up 1.17 PPP in their first 24 games, the Orange have been in a free fall, only putting up .97 per over the last six. That's steep, and it's no surprise that SU's lost four of those contests over the later stretch. But what's caused it? Well, as a team, take a look at how shooting's completely fallen off a cliff:
... Wow. The lesser percentage from beyond the arc we knew full well, and same goes for the shots around the rim. But I don't think we quite realized how bad things had gotten in the mid-range. As Burkhardt points out, this is a combination of Jerami Grant's absence and C.J. Fair's own struggles from three and on the right side of the floor. Obviously Grant's lack of playing time has led to defenses keying in on Fair, preventing him from the same open looks that he was getting over the first three quarters of the season.
Another big issue is Tyler Ennis's own struggles as the offense has largely shifted to be reliant on his and Fair's respective production. On the year, Ennis has had some issues going right (why couldn't it have been left? I wanted to make a Zoolander joke), and while that's changed lately, there's still more to improve upon. We've also harped on his lack of finishing ability at the rim, and the shot chart clearly shows he's become a less efficient shooter close to the basket.
Lastly, just because this has been a topic of frequent conversation, let's take a look at Trevor Cooney's shot chart...
And as terrifying as that is, just imagine if we had the breakdown for conference play v. non-conference play.
Burkhardt does a much better job of breaking all this down than I do, so I'd recommend checking out all of his analysis and shot charts over on Shot Analytics. While it's still unfortunate to see the team struggling like this, at least we're a bit more informed now about why it's happening.