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Three takeaways from Syracuse’s 67-55 loss to VCU

Offense apparently optional overseas

NCAA Basketball: VCU at Syracuse Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Ah. Well that’s not ideal.

The Syracuse Orange traveled to the Bahamas looking for a bounce-back win after a loss to the Colgate Raiders over the weekend. However, the Orange were met by a VCU Rams team that disturbed Syracuse with its press and aggressive defense. That resulted in SU’s offense shutting down and losing to VCU 67-55 in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Here’s our three takeaways from the loss:

Second half slumber

If Syracuse is going to win games, it can’t afford to come out of the halftime locker room like it did against VCU. The Orange looked flat from the first whistle of the second half and as such, the pressure got to Syracuse and tired the team out. That opened up VCU to take open looks from three as the Orange started to move more slowly on defense. From there, Syracuse was playing catchup and taking desperate shots, changing it’s offense. That nicely leads to my next point.

NCAA Basketball: VCU at Syracuse Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Where was the ball movement?

There were way too many offensive possessions where Syracuse passed the ball less than two times. The second half featured a lot of isolation ball and dribble-drives to the rim from various players. It seemed like many Orange players wanted to beat VCU by themselves and essentially play 1v5. Syracuse only had eight assists on the day, and we’ve already seen this story from last season. Reverting to isolation ball is not going to get things done, especially with the personnel that Syracuse has.

Maybe take a page out of Colgate’s book

The Raiders started 0-12 against Syracuse last week, but then the threes started to rain. Colgate finished that game 18-43 from three, with over 50% of its shots coming from range. The Orange went 5-23 from three against VCU, which I get is not great. However, Jim Boeheim has consistently told his shooters to keep shooting the ball even when they’re in a slump. Syracuse’s strength is its three-point shooting. They have the players to do that, not dribble-drive and take mid-range shots or contested layups against more physical competition. The Orange need to look themselves in the mirror and say no matter how bad the stats look, our best form of offense is the three-ball.