And breathe, Syracuse fans.
That’s probably how most of you expected the Syracuse Orange to look like against Bryant last week. But even without Buddy Boeheim available, Syracuse looked like a much better team. The Orange dominated the Niagara Purple Eagles throughout the game to secure a relatively easy 75-45 victory. Some impressive individual performances should give Syracuse fans a lot of hope for the future of the program.
Here’s our three takeaways from a much more comfortable Syracuse victory
The Orange won the paint battle on both sides of the court
Syracuse’s perimeter shooting was much less of a factor without Boeheim in the lineup. As such, the focus for the Orange was to get the ball inside the arc. Quincy Guerrier was the big benefactor of that offensive adjustment as he showed excellent on and off ball movement to put himself in positions to score underneath the rim. The sophomore led all scorers with 23 points on 9-of-10 shooting and added 13 rebounds for his second straight double-double.
Guerrier wasn’t the only player finding success inside the paint. Marek Dolezaj didn’t have the same amount of touches as he was tasked with playing Bourama Sidibe’s role underneath the rim more frequently. Despite that, the Slovakian showcased his trademark court vision with some excellent passes below the basket and generally sunk his good looks. Alan Griffin also showed some nice ability to get inside the arc at times.
Rebounding also helped Syracuse secure the victory. It’s impressive when you out-rebound your opponent by 17 boards on the defensive glass. Dolezaj had 10 boards along and Woody Newton had five rebounds in his Orange debut to go along with Guerrier’s 13. Kadary Richmond also secured seven boards in the win. Speaking of Richmond...
Kadary Richmond shows some promise
Let’s temper some expectations here for a second since Niagara is, with all due respect, not at the same level as the majority of programs that Syracuse will face this year. With that said, Richmond backed up the praise he was getting from coaches and players in preseason with his play today. Much like Guerrier, the freshman took advantage of the increased focus on interior offense and showed some excellent rim-attacking ability. Richmond finished 6-of-10 from the floor with 16 points to finish as Syracuse’s second-leading scorer. He also added six assists.
Richmond also didn’t look half-bad defensively with four steals and three blocks on the day. That defensive allowed him to create some great chances in transition to help Syracuse increase its advantage. If he continues this all-around performance, he’ll make a strong case to slot into the starting lineup once Boeheim returns.
While those stats look good, Richmond and the Orange defense may have gotten lucky...
Syracuse got away with its lackluster three-point defense
Niagara took 64 shots from the floor. 36 of those shoots were from beyond the arc. I think Syracuse got extremely lucky that the Purple Eagles only sunk six of those three-point shots. There were some great and excellent looks that Niagara got from range but the Purple Eagles simply could not get the ball to fall through the net.
Syracuse seemed to over-rotate throughout the game and some guys were left wide-open beyond the arc. You’d expect a better team to hit those open looks more frequently. Those threes are what made the Bryant game so close. The Orange cannot afford to leave guys that open on the perimeter that frequently.