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Was the Syracuse men’s basketball loss to Colgate a blip or reason for concern?

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Let’s take a deeper look

NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Now that some time has elapsed since the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball gave up 100 to the Colgate Raiders we take a look to see what issues the team will be working on as they prepare for this week’s Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis.

Defending the three

I’ve noticed some people say that Colgate just got hot from three and that’s got some truth to it. The Raiders missed their first 12 attempts from beyond the arc and then went 18-31 the rest of the way. When teams are hitting at that pace there’s not much you can do but try to out-score them. The problem is that Colgate got their looks from a variety of spots on the floor. Here’s the shot chart I tweeted during the second half of the game and you can see how the Raiders spread out all around the arc and mostly ignored anything else unless it was at the rim.

Moving forward Syracuse needs to have better communication on defense. If the ball gets to the high post to a player who isn’t going to shoot, then the perimeter players need to work with the centers. One player needs to protect the rim but you can’t have forwards and guards dropping below the foul line leaving open looks the entire game.

Rebounding

Colgate played eight players on Saturday and all of them grabbed at least one offensive rebound. Through three games Syracuse opponents are getting 12 offensive rebounds per game which puts the Orange 305th in the country. Not a good sign when you’ve played three small schools and still have the toughest part of the schedule ahead. Syracuse won’t be a great rebounding team this year but they can get better and will need all five players to contribute in this effort.

NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Sharing the ball

Against Lafayette, the Orange had 26 assists on 37 field goals. The number dropped against Drexel when they 17 assist on 30 field goals but the second half of that game featured good ball movement as Syracuse overcame a halftime deficit. The strategy continued in the first half on Saturday as Joe Girard had six first-half assists but as Colgate began to assert control the Syracuse offense turned very isolation-heavy. The Orange finished the game with 13 assists on their 28 field goals while Colgate had 26 assists on their 32 field goals. One team made the extra pass for an open look while the other side decided that doing it themselves was the way to go. Without a true threat to get into the lane and create for others, Syracuse needs to focus on ball and player movement to get the type of shots they want. We’ve seen this team exploit a mismatch but they need to have better recognition and shot selection in close games.

Syracuse is taking care of the ball and making shots so improving on their weaknesses could get this team the quality wins to put them back into the Top 25 conversation and in a strong position heading into ACC play. We’ll see how they handle the next game against a VCU Rams squad that is playing some very low-scoring games so far in 2021. Can Syracuse force them into a faster-tempo or will they get bogged down in the type of game the Rams want to play?