While at the Final Four Syracuse Orange Head Coach Jim Boeheim offered an early assessment of next year’s team in an interview with Syracuse.com. Of note was his statement that the Syracuse offense would look a lot differently when the team takes the floor next November.
“We didn’t move the ball a lot,’’ Boeheim said of his recent Orange squads. “We had to drive a lot. In some games, like Duke, we were OK, but we didn’t move the ball and we had no post presence.
“Next year, we should be able to move the ball better and not dribble-drive as much,’’ he continued. “We have guys who can shoot it and pass it.’’
This is good news to many of us who have been calling for better movement from the Orange. As noted in the article, Syracuse’s last two seasons have resulted in the lowest and third-lowest assist totals in school history. In an era where spacing and ball movement have been crucial to success the Syracuse offense has often looked like it was trying to skateboard up a muddy hill.
At the end of the day a defense can only do so much and you have to be able to convert on offense. Teams don’t need to score 80 points per game but as you can see protecting the ball and making shots usually means a very good season. The last four NCAA Champions have ranked very highly when it comes to KenPom’s offensive efficiency. Here’s where the National Champions and Syracuse finished in that metric each year:
2015 Duke Blue Devils- 3rd Syracuse 117th
2016 Villanova Wildcats- 3rd Syracuse 50th
2017 UNC Tar Heels- 9th Syracuse 30th
2018 Villanova- 1st Syracuse 135th
2019 Virginia Cavaliers-2nd Syracuse 59th
Boeheim talked about Jalen Carey being able to make shots and how the Orange must run more for him to be effective as the point guard. Despite rumors throughout the season he said Carey never let his playing time impact his attitude.
“He worked every day in practice,’’ Boeheim said. “He never pouted. He never hung his head. He came in every day and worked.’’
I’m a little skeptical about Syracuse returning to the run and gun days of Pearl and Sherman but if the frontcourt can improve their rebounding then the Orange certainly have the players who can benefit from Carey’s style. It’s exciting to think about Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim getting good looks from deep in transition or Oshae Brissett running the wing and beating the defense down the court.
The Hall of Fame coach expects the Italy trip to be important for the integration of Brycen Goodnine, Joe Girard and Quincy Guerrier into the rotation. He’s especially high on Guerrier calling him the “best player in Canada” and saying he’d be a lot better than a top 100 recruit.
With Virginia’s win last night we know that Syracuse will open the season against the defending National Champions. Getting a pretty tough test right away will allow us to see if Boeheim’s offensive changes will make an immediate impact.