The Syracuse Orange defense has struggled a bit as of late. (No, wait, come back!!! I promise this isn't a football post in disguise!) James detailed just how easily St. John's exploited the zone on Sunday, but this has been a problem since Interim/Designate Head Coach Mike Hopkins took the helm against Georgetown.
"In the three games that we've coached, teams have shot 41 percent from the 3-point line," Hopkins said. "They're making 10 a game and shooting 46 percent from the field. And that's not our numbers. I don't care if you're a freshman, if you're small, whatever. That can't happen."
Yeah, that's not great. Ditota mentions that the Orange's defensive efficiency rating on KenPom is 53rd in the country, and that the team is just 113th nationally at defending the three so far. Ditota also mentions that this year's three point defensive mark (32.4%) is a long way off from 2013, when the Orange rode the zone to the Final Four (28%).
I mean, anyone who has watched games so far this year can attest that the zone has just not been executed well as of late. Players aren't making their slides correctly (if at all), teams are getting the ball down low far too easily (and when Syracuse does do something down there, they generally can't capitalize) and overall, teams are getting way too many open looks because of it.
These last four non conference games will be huge for the Orange if nothing else to reset the defensive focus. Teams now have a blue print on how to beat the Orange at their own game. It's up to the players to execute to the level they're expected to. I think we might see some over aggressiveness in this first game, but I will almost guarantee that if these issues continue until Boeheim's return, they won't be there when he's running practices.