Percentage-wise, Tyler Lydon is Syracuse's best 3-point shooter, converting on his attempts from beyond the arc at a 45.9% clip — slightly better than Michael Gbinije, who's shooting 43.8% from 3. Despite that, Lydon hasn't been shooting much at all; per 40 minutes, he's attempting only 8.4 shots from the field. Of the Orange's scholarship players, that's the second-lowest mark, ahead of only Chinonso Obokoh (8.0).
For Syracuse to break out of its current slump, that will likely need to change. In theory, interim coach Mike Hopkins could help solve the problem by running more plays through Lydon, but Lydon also deserves blame, as he's often been extremely reluctant to shoot. That was evident in the Orange's 72-61 loss at Pittsburgh on Wednesday, when he passed up multiple open looks from 3 — something he's done in several other games this season.
After the Pittsburgh game, Lydon said he usually declines to take those shots with the hope that it will lead to an even better shot for a teammate, which isn't always a bad approach.
About four minutes into the second half Wednesday, Lydon passed up on taking a relatively open 3 from the left wing before driving past Pitt's Jamel Artis. That forced Sheldon Jeter to meet Lydon in the middle of the lane, which left Tyler Roberson open under the basket. Lydon found him for an easy layup.
"That play, it worked out. But there were other situations I could have pulled up and shot the 3 right off the bat," Lydon said. "It's something that I definitely have to work on."
Lydon ranks sixth in the ACC in 3-point shooting percentage, but he's taking fewer 3s than his counterparts in the conference. Among the conference's 15 leaders in 3-point shooting percentage, Lydon is taking the second-fewest 3s per game.
|Player||3P%||3-point attempts per game|
|Ivan Cruz Uceda||56.1%||3.42|
Of those 15 players, only Duke's Derryck Thornton is shooting less often from beyond the arc than Lydon. However, Thornton is also playing less than Lydon. Per 40 minutes, both players are taking 3.3 shots from deep.
Lydon's low shooting volume is especially noteworthy because the 3-point shot is the Orange's bread and butter. So far this season, 3-pointers have accounted for 42.8% of SU's field goal attempts, the highest mark in the ACC.
But of Syracuse's four legitimate threats from deep, Lydon is taking the fewest 3s by a substantial margin. He's averaging 2.6 attempts per game, while Gbinije, Trevor Cooney and Malachi Richardson each average at least 6.3 attempts. (Richardson is averaging 6.3, Gbinije is averaging 6.9 and Cooney is averaging 7.1.)
That wasn't an issue early in the season, but in recent games, the 3 hasn't helped Syracuse, which, as a team, is now shooting only 35.3% from deep. Since winning the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Orange are shooting just 30.9% from 3 — the biggest reason they're just 4-4 in that span, with zero signature wins.
For that percentage to go up significantly, the shots will inevitably need to be spread out more evenly. That's especially crucial with ACC play underway, as wins will now be even harder to come by if SU isn't making 3s.
This afternoon's contest at No. 13 Miami will be no exception. The Hurricanes, ranked seventh in kenpom.com's adjusted offensive efficiency metric, are averaging 85.3 points per game, third in the conference. To keep up with that attack, Syracuse will need to shoot well — and that will likely require Lydon to be more aggressive than he's been.
Said Gbinije: "We need him to shoot the ball. He's a good shooter. He can make those shots."