Last year’s Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team relied on the three-point shot, but this year’s squad lacks the shooting depth to do so again. We knew this team would be young and inexperienced for the most-part, so they needed to find a new tool to use to attack their opponent, and in just seven games, it appears they have found it: rebounding.
Just by simply looking at this team up close in person, you can tell that they are going to have a size advantage against most, if not all, opponents they face this year. They aren’t built on strength, but the length and athleticism on the Orange gives them an advantage like no other.
Right now the Orange are averaging 43.3 rebounds per game, which is good for eighth in the country and third in the ACC behind Duke and North Carolina, according to ESPN.com. They are out-rebounding their opponent by an average margin of 12.4 per game, an advantage that has surely helped Syracuse jump out to this 7-1 start.
Outside fans would think that the 7’2” Paschal Chukwu would be the one leading the Orange in this rebounding barrage, but the surprise of the season has been the rebounding success from freshman Oshae Brissett. The 6’8” Brissett is leading the team in rebounds with 9.8 per game, 3.9 more than the player in second (Marek Dolezaj is averaging 5.9 per game).
The Orange need this rebounding edge to make up for their inconsistent half court offense, and so far the dominance on the glass has been enough. Keeping it up throughout the entire season will be a challenge, but let’s take a look at how this year’s Syracuse team compares to past teams in terms of their rebounding edge.
Dating back 16 years to the 2001-2002 season, this is the best rebounding team the Orange have had yet — now maintaining it is the question. The 2002-2003 championship team was the closest one to this team’s rebounding success with an average of 41.2 per game which was good for a tiefor seventh in the nation.
The Orange were lucky enough to have two players in Carmelo Anthony and Hakim Warrick averaging at least 8.5 rebounds per game that year, with Anthony averaging 10 and Warrick averaging 8.5. The team success that squad had may not correlate well to this year’s team, but the rebounding success between the two teams allowed them to control the pace of play during games.
Dating back to that 2001-2002 season, there have only been four other teams to wind up in the top 15 for rebounds: the championship team, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009, according to ESPN.com. Following the championship squad, the 2006-2007 team averaged the second most rebounds per game out of those four teams with 40.2 per game, but famously failed to make the NCAA tournament.
None of these teams, however, averaged more than the 43.3 rebounds per game the Orange have put up thus far, and there may be some quality postseason wins to follow if they can sustain this pace. This team isn’t going to win games based on their scoring, but if their defense holds up and they continue to dominate the glass, then watch out — the Syracuse Orange are coming.