You can all breathe now—the Orange didn’t blow this one. The Syracuse Orange beat the Maryland Terrapins by a score of 72-70 to move to 6-0 and on the year. Tyus Battle wasn’t close to his full self, but he made the big plays when it mattered most to close out the win for the Orange.
He didn’t do it on his own as Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett combined for 30 points to help the injured Battle on the offensive side of the ball. It wasn’t always nice for the Orange in this one, but they made the winning plays and won a game that will look nice on their resume come March.
The freshmen answered the test
A massive question that needed to be answered this year was how quickly Syracuse’s freshman would get comfortable to playing in coach Jim Boeheim’s system—that question may already have its answer, and it’s a good one.
Oshae Brissett, Bourama Sidibe, and Marek Dolezaj have made their presence known for the Orange, and it really showed against the Terrapins. Brissett was aggressive from the start, weaving his way towards the rim on countless occasions. Although he finished 5-of-18 from the field, Brissett managed to record another double double with his aggressive play inside (he had 15 points and 13 rebounds)
Sidibe and Dolezaj did more of the little things including grabbing offensive rebounds and finding the open holes down low on offense. They may not look like box score stars all the time, but it’s starting to look like coach Boeheim can rely on his freshman every night.
Need to establish presence inside
The Orange have the guards to get it done on any night, but too often are they on the perimeter passing the ball around and not looking to attack. Maryland showed a zone at times against Syracuse, and while it is hard to find the open man inside, the Orange need to be more aggressive in the half court offense rather than sitting back on the perimeter.
Developing a force inside will allow for shooters to be open on the perimeter off of a pass inside. It’s easier said than done, but Syracuse will make their lives easier in the half court offense if they can get the ball inside earlier in the shot clock.
Frank Howard is ready for his moment
He’s heard the critiques his fare share of times, but Frank Howard doesn’t care—he uses it as his motivation. Over his years, Howard has come up short in the big games, but the junior point guard finally came through when it mattered most with a gutsy performance against Maryland.
Howard finished with a near triple double as he tallied 15 points, 10 assists, and seven steals and controlled the pace of play throughout. Howard used his ability to penetrate the lane to get easy looks inside for himself and his teammates. The Orange need a leader with all the youth on this team, and Howard has not only stepped up for that role, but he has embraced it and made it impossible to take away from him.