I didn’t come here to shovel more dirt on the Syracuse Orange 2016-17 season. We’ve had plenty of time for the gloom and doom, so let’s start looking at some positives that we can gleam from the rest of the year.
To start things off, if you came here hoping to see me suggest benching Andrew White and John Gillon, you should probably head somewhere else. This season isn’t over and Syracuse isn’t going to bench these guys just because you think they are heartless mercenaries hell-bent on destroying the luster of the Orange program for their own NBA gain. Right now those are two of the Orange’s top three scorers. Both guys are shooting well from distance (White is at 39.8% and Gillon is 43.9%) and while each has flaws in their game, the notion that Syracuse would be better without them is simply illogical. I’d like to see both make adjustments to better fit their teammates, but both of these guys can play ball and they make Syracuse better.
Now despite the above paragraph, it’s also clear that the Orange needs to continue to feed Taurean Thompson and Tyus Battle more minutes and shots. A foot injury slowed Battle shortly after he was inserted into the starting line-up. I believe that Battle can emerge as a weapon that this team needs on the offensive end. It’s early, but his shooting numbers are better than Malachi Richardson’s were last year and Battle can help with the floor spacing. If he can get back to 100%, we should see him bring a boost to the Orange offense. Battle needs to finish better at the rim, but he’s shown a lot of potential thus far.
Thompson’s shooting touch has been a bright spot for Syracuse as he’s shooting 56% from the field and showing an ability to hit the mid-range shot and drive to the rim. Thompson’s learning on defense, but his ability to work in sync with Tyler Lydon can help the Orange in ACC play. It’s time to let him play through those defensive issues in exchange for a better offensive weapon, especially one who can work an interchangeable high-low game with Lydon.
Speaking of Tyler Lydon, his season hasn’t gone as many imagined it would. Playing out of position at the 3 to start contributed to a slow-shooting start, but the performance against Georgetown showed that Lydon’s game is progressing. It’s time for Syracuse to run the offense through Lydon and for him to showcase his full range of skills. When he has a big on him, he needs to head to the perimeter, but when teams try to guard him with a smaller player, the Orange have to post him up and feed him the ball.
I feel confident that this team, and coaching staff, are not going to sit back and collapse further. Expect the Orange to return with a bit more passion and intensity. All expectations have been removed, so how about we try and see if we can’t find some enjoyment the rest of the way? Let me know what you’re looking forward to seeing in 2017 in the comments.