The Syracuse Orange are 4-1 and even though it’s early in the season we’ve seen the Orange go from needing the Bryant Bulldogs to miss two open shots to putting up 103 on the Boston College Eagles. It’s too early to know what the season will bring but here are thoughts on three potential areas of concern.
Live by the three and die by the three
We knew Syracuse would take a lot of three-pointers this year but through five games there are five players taking more than 50% of their shot attempts from behind the arc. Alan Griffin (40 3s in 70 fga), Buddy Boeheim (19 3s in 30 fga), Joe Girard (40 3s in 54 fga), Woody Newton (13 3s in 22 fga) and Robert Braswell (12 3s in 18 fga). As a team Syracuse is 27th in the country in 3pa and only 267th in two-point attempts. While it’s great that the Orange have two games where they shot over 50% from 3, in the other three games that percentage is under 30%.
Griffin’s overall shooting numbers are solid but he’s only 14 for 30 inside the arc while Girard is continuing last year’s struggles as he’s 2 for 14. Looking ahead at the ACC schedule there are several teams in the top 20 in KenPom’s adjusted defense: Clemson, Virginia, Florida St, Duke and North Carolina. As these teams look to take away the deep shots, the Orange are going to need to continue the ball movement we saw at BC. It will also be interesting to see if the Orange can find other ways to get points when the shooting is off.
Sidibe’s injury takes one of Syracuse’s best offensive rebounders off the floor. After five games the Orange rank 200th in the country and are averaging under 10 offensive rebounds per game. I’ve been an advocate for using Marek Dolezaj in the high post on offense but if both Syracuse forwards are outside the arc then you’re basically giving the opponent the ball after every missed shot.
Offensive rebounds lead to extra possessions so if Syracuse is giving up those opportunities then they will need to rebound well on the defensive end and continue to create turnovers from their opponents.
Speaking of turnovers the Orange have committed 76 turnovers through the first five games with Griffin (17) and Girard (16) at the top of the list. As Christian pointed out in his post, the starting five for Syracuse doesn’t feature great ball-handlers capable of breaking down defenders. The totals aren’t skewed by the reserves either as players outside the seven-man rotation have only been responsible for eight of the turnovers. For context last year’s team was just over eleven turnovers per game and with the expectation of a lot of close games in ACC play you don’t want to give away four more offensive possessions.
If the Orange try to revert back to isolation plays and standing/watching they might have difficulty getting good looks. It’s going to be important for this group to move the ball and themselves to stay out of trouble. They did this well against Rutgers until the final few minutes and when the going gets tough down the road they’d be wise to fight those old urges to try and play hero ball.
What are some areas you’re worried about as the team winds down the non-conference schedule?