This Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team sure knows how to put its fans through the wringer when watching them play while also putting on a show and living up to the Cardiac ‘Cuse nickname in the process.
After a double-overtime victory Tuesday night, the Orange had momentum heading into their first conference matchup Saturday night against the gritty Florida State Seminoles and capitalized on it, beating the Seminoles 63-60 in dramatic fashion, now also riding a two-game win streak.
The Orange started off sluggish early in tonight's game, trailing by 11 points at one point in the first half, but found their rhythm in the second, playing with more discipline on offense letting plays develop rather than forcing them which led to Syracuse outscoring the Seminoles 39-28 in the half.
Even though Orange walked away with the W, there is still some positive and negative takeaway from tonight's win. Here are our three takeaways from today's win:
Takeaway 1: Gotta develop more discipline on offense
Wow, this was a rough one to watch in the first half. Syracuse looked overworked and failed to show the defensive grit needed against an always tough match against the Seminoles. The Orange started the first 13 minutes of the game 4-26 from the field and 3-15 from three only scoring 12 points, but their problems didn’t stop there. They also threw eight turnovers in the first half which turned into 10 fastbreak points for the Seminoles, which only made it more difficult for Syracuse to shoot their way back into this game.
The second half showed signs of potential for the Orange going forward, and the main reason for this was their offensive discipline. in the first eight minutes of the half, the Orange threw two turnovers and shot an efficient 7-13 from the field to take a 43-40 lead after being down 24-32 at the end of the first half. Their discipline on offense was the reason they won this game tonight, especially during the intense closing minutes of the game.
This team needs to develop more discipline on offense and let plays develop more rather than rushing possessions and making sloppy turnovers, that turn into unanswered points for the opposing team. As we saw tonight, if they develop that discipline, the Orange could start to see more success and turn their season around in the process.
Takeaway 2: Where was the bench?
After Tuesday night's game against Indiana, many of SU’s regular players felt the after-effects of the mentally and physically draining matchup. Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim each played 50 and 47 minutes respectively. Cole Swider and Jesse Edwards each played 34 and 39 minutes, before both fouling out, and Joeseph Girard III played 44 minutes.
This starting unit was overworked in the opening minutes of an intense first conference game of the season. While they found their rhythm in the second half and walked away with the W in dramatic fashion, the Orange need to start playing their bench so they can develop more on-ball threats. One point off of the bench like in tonight's game isn't going to cut it going forward. Syracuse needs to start using players off their bench more consistently in lineups so they won't have to rely on Buddy and Jimmy who have averages of 38.4 and 33.6 minutes per game, and both need their workloads minimized in order to see the most success from this team long term. Creating more on-ball threats off of the bench could lead to better scoring opportunities for Syracuse’s mainstay players, and would result in a more efficient and successful Syracuse offensive scheme.
Takeaway 3: Offensive rebounding could be a major key for Syracuse’s success
The one positive takeaway from today's game was the increased offensive rebounding efforts from the Orangemen. The Orange grabbed 13 offensive rebounds which translated into 13-second chance scoring opportunities in this game, with the most important being Joseph Girard's three-pointer to give the Orange a six-point lead with less than two minutes left to play.
Syracuse has been a team that has been bashed on a lot this season about their lack of defensive rebounding which could be the reason for their lack of fastbreak points, which is a fair assessment.
However, as today's game showed the Orange could be effective in second-chance scoring opportunities off of offensive rebounds. This should be something Jim Boeheim looks to hone in on with this year's team, as they are clearly is still in a period of dismay trying to find their identity on both ends of the floor. Although this year's team isn't as physically imposing as teams of the past, if they emphasize the art of boxing out on offense and making the right pass off of offensive rebounds, they will start to develop better scoring opportunities for their players. By emphasizing offensive rebounding and increasing second-chance points scoring opportunities, they won't have to rely as much on their spot-up shooting which has been hit or miss so far this season.