On the plus side, Jesse Edwards has shown he’s good at basketball.
On the other side, not much went well for Syracuse today.
The Syracuse Orange looked to close out the Battle 4 Atlantis strong, taking on a top-20 team in the Auburn Tigers. However, the Tigers locked down defensively and overcame a shaky offense start to blow out the Orange 89-68. Syracuse finished its trip to the Bahamas 1-2, and fans left the tournament with more questions than answers about this season’s Orange squad.
Here’s our takeaways from the Orange’s third loss of the season:
The blueprint is there to defend Syracuse
The Battle 4 Atlantis, not just today’s game against Auburn, was a clear blueprint on how to defend Syracuse and make the Orange uncomfortable. VCU and Auburn face-guarded the ball on every single possession and didn’t give the Syracuse ballhandlers any room to breathe. We saw strips, bad passes and a general reluctance to take shots from the Orange. That all stems from opponents playing tight to their man. Syracuse needs to find a way to punish defenses for guarding them so closely.
If you sag off, your swag’s off
Auburn started hitting threes in the middle of the first half that gave the Tigers all the momentum and rhythm they needed to sustain efficient offense throughout the game. Some of those threes were some lucky bank shots, but others were a result of defenders following guards driving into the lane, defenders not identifying the right shooting threats, and lazy rotations that forced back matchups. Yes, the Syracuse zone is designed to give up threes. However, those threes are supposed to be deep threes and not a result of guys being left open right on the arc.
Who’s gonna step up?
We saw a reluctance from Jim Boeheim to play his bench players in the second half against Arizona State, and the reason why was profoundly exposed against Auburn. The Orange bench players in Symir Torrence, Benny Williams and Frank Anselem don’t provide the same spark on offense that Syracuse needs to keep up the high-powered offense that the starters run. This Orange offense is what’s going to win games for this team, and the backups need to help out on that end when they’re in the game.