I think Dan summed that game up best on Twitter:
That was a basketball game.— Dan Lyons (@Dan_Lyons76) December 16, 2020
The Syracuse Orange traded the lead with the Northeastern Huskies 20 times on Wednesday. A mixture of full-court pressure, turnovers, and inconsistent shooting from the Huskies in the second half gave the Orange just enough of an edge to eek out a 62-56 victory. It was certainly a come-back-down-to-earth moment for Jim Boeheim’s squad after the highs of the Boston College game. Here’s three takeaways from a rather interesting game for all the wrong reasons.
Consider giving Quincy Guerrier the ball
A game like this seems almost too perfect for a player like Guerrier to dominant it. A relatively undersized team with a negative rebounding margin seemed to signal before the game that the forward would have a good day. He certainly lived up to that, finishing the game going 6-of-10 from the field with 18 points and a monstrous 16 rebounds.
Note the 10 field goals attempts. That amount would be the fourth-most on the team against Northeastern as Joseph Girard III, Marek Dolezaj, and Buddy Boeheim ended the game ahead of Guerrier in field goal attempts. Guerrier was so effective underneath the basket as he looked stronger and more physical than almost every Northeastern. He’s been a force in the paint on both sides of the ball all season.
It would make a lot of sense for Syracuse to draw up some plays to get him the ball, whether that be through off-ball screens or opening up passing lanes to the paint. The fact that Guerrier was so influential on offense without touching ball nearly as much as others is a testament to his improvement and his importance to this Orange team.
Learning the 2-3 zone rotations to cover the three needs to be a priority
Northeastern wasn’t a bad three-point shooting team coming into the game with the Huskies hitting 35.3% of shots beyond the arc. That range showed as Northeastern hit 7-of-18 shots from range in the first half to pressure the Orange straight away. A lack of consistency from three in the second half allowed Syracuse to claw its way back into the game.
The rotations on the perimeter continue to be late, as they have been all season. It doesn’t matter if a team is good or bad at shooting from deep. If you give them that many open looks, they’ll hit them eventually. The amount of open threes Northeastern had was unacceptable. The open looks from beyond the arc are probably going to be the main reason that leads to a Syracuse loss for most of the season if the rotations aren’t improved on fast.
Manage your expectations — Syracuse is going to be streaky all year
With a team that is so reliant on its guards scoring from deep, there are going a multitude of streaky games all across the spectrum. Syracuse is not going to shoot 51.6% from three every game like it did against Boston College. Likewise, the Orange won’t only hit 2-18 shots from range like they did today. Manage the highs with the lows, because Syracuse is headed towards inconsistent shooting throughout the entire year.
If you want to create some consistency, perhaps more passing or off-ball movement would be better instead of the guards putting the ball on the floor and driving towards the paint. Shot creation was a big problem throughout the entire Northeastern game and that needs to improve in order for the Orange to find any semblance of consistency.