Last week I took a look at how the Syracuse Orange had made adjustments to the offense to open up room for the players to operate. On Saturday against the Pittsburgh Panthers the Orange channeled some NBA teams with their approach.
Syracuse's shot chart against Pitt. Almost exclusively shots in the paint and 3s pic.twitter.com/HOXinDSZar— Craig Meyer (@CraigMeyerPG) January 25, 2020
During this five-game winning streak the Orange have made it a point to get the ball into the lane. You can see from the chart above that Syracuse got thirteen baskets at the rim against Pitt using their size to help overcome a poor shooting afternoon. Despite being known as a perimeter team the Orange have one of the tallest line-ups in the country and have been putting that to use in ACC play.
Syracuse’s strategy mirrors the one we see from the Houston Rockets or Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA where the shot charts often have a larger swath of white between the 3-point line and the lane. James Harden might be the most glaring example of this “No Midrange” mantra as you can see below.
James Harden's shot chart right now... pic.twitter.com/Olkf3cwL9a— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) December 16, 2019
The aggressiveness from Marek Dolezaj combined with the strong contributions from Bourama Sidibe and Quincy Guerrier have allowed Syracuse to weather shooting slumps from Elijah Hughes and Joseph Girard III who have been a combined 13 for 47 from 3 over the last four games of this winning streak (Buddy Boeheim has 13 himself over that stretch). Over the same time period the combination of Dolezaj, Guerrier and Sidibe have gone 37 for 60 from the field.
Obviously the Orange would like to find the range from deep as the schedule gets tougher but developing the inside threat is going to allow this team the opportunity to do more on the offensive end. Converting near the basket, drawing fouls and forcing the opponent to cover all five Syracuse players will make it easier on the perimeter players. If the Orange want to continue this run to a NCAA Tournament bid they will need to lean on the offense to get it done.