You thought that Syracuse would be better than last year, eh? You thought that because Syracuse was returning every major contributer from last season (sorry, Braedon Bayer), added four-star recruit Jalen Carey, knock-down three point shooter Buddy Boeheim and Elijah Hughes would be eligible to play after sitting out his transfer year, didn’t you? Me too. In the words of ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, “We have been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amuck and flat-out deceived.”
Rather than taking care of business in its non-conference slate, Syracuse now has three losses. Two losses were fine — we knew that the wins came to good teams on neutral court without our senior leader. A third loss would have been fine — against a tough Buffalo team. Now, Syracuse is staring down the barrel of the Buffalo matchup after being tagged with its third loss against Old Dominion.
That doesn’t even mention how ugly the loss was. When are Syracuse’s centers going to figure it out? Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe gave us nothing on the offensive end. Zero points. Watching the pair drop passes, fumble rebounds, commit horrifically unnecessary fouls — it hurts. It hurts to watch. If only we had another option.
* Checks notes *
Turns out we do. “The handsome one”, also known as Marek Dolezaj, is at the very least tolerable to watch. He knocked down a pretty jump shot on a pretty pick-and-pop, he dropped a dime to Elijah Hughes. Yeah, Hughes didn’t finish. But could the other centers do that?
Jim Boeheim tells us that Dolezaj isn’t strong enough to play center for extended periods of time. Why not let him prove it over an extended period of time? Maybe it’s time to give Dolezaj more run.
Also, what was going on with Oshae Brissett? He had three turnovers and two of them were really bad. Brissett was bigger, stronger and more athletic than the players Old Dominion was rolling at him. Why was he playing so passively every time he faced up? He was averaging six free throw attempts per game, but he only got to the free throw line three times on Saturday. We need more from him.
We need more from the offense down the stretch, too. There were too many bad shots at a time when Syracuse needed baskets the most. The best offense the Orange had at the time was letting Tyus Battle play iso-ball. Run a set. Get shooters running off of screens. Do something to make scoring easier. Just, please, no more driving aimlessly and chucking up a fade away at the first sign of resistance.
Did we witness Buddy Boeheim’s last non-garbage time minutes? I hope so. He isn’t ready to contribute.
This loss sucked. There’s no way around it. I’m going to change the mood here so bear with me:
Old Dominion isn’t a bad team. They matched up well with Syracuse in that they play tough defense and have the size to come at us. This is a team that could win Conference USA. They’re no joke. This loss comes at a time where Syracuse has an opportunity to go out and turn things around on Tuesday against a good team. If Syracuse can show up and beat Buffalo, this loss becomes “just one of those days”. If Syracuse loses to Buffalo, go ahead and be mad. 10-3 looks and feels a lot better than 9-4 heading into ACC play. This next game will define how we view this ODU loss, so let’s start looking forward to that one.