I’m sure everyone will have rational thoughts about this game.
The Syracuse Orange lost 64-53 by completely collapsing in the second half of yet another game. The Pittsburgh Panthers demolished the Orange in final 20 minutes at the Petersen Events Center as the Panthers outscored Syracuse by 15 in a loss that could come to define the rest of the season for the Orange.
Here’s our takeaways from a disappointing game:
The preseason fear
When the final roster was revealed for Syracuse heading into this season, there was a considerable fear about what would happen if any Orange guard was unavailable for any reason. That fear has been realized with Symir Torrence out with a knee injury. That meant Syracuse couldn’t give Joe Girard or Buddy Boeheim a break to either rest or reset their mentality. Then Girard took a hard spill and had to come out of the game. That meant Cole Swider played as the other guard at the top of the zone.
Girard eventually returned to the game, but the larger point still stands. The lack of depth at the guard position was concerning before the season. And now those concerns are proving true as Syracuse can’t change the pace or look of the game when things start to go sideways.
No. 1 in our hearts
Speaking of depth options, heads notably turned when John Bol Ajak was the first forward off the bench for Jim Boeheim. Even more heads turned when Bol Ajak was the option when Swider moved to guard while Girard was knocked up. The odd man out, once again, was Benny Williams. The beloved freshman by the fans didn’t see the floor until the under-four minute media timeout in the second half. Immediately when he stepped on the floor, Williams provided a nice chance of pace but didn’t impact the game as much as people would like.
It’s been clear that Coach Boeheim prefers other options at forward as he’s said that Williams hasn’t performed well in practice. However, it’s puzzling why that means Williams doesn’t deserve more playing time than what’s he getting.
I could talk about what exactly went wrong for the Orange and try and pinpoint where Syracuse lost control of the game, but at this point I’m just repeating myself. The Orange continue to lose games in a very similar fashion: bad halftime adjustments, giving up rebounds, defending poorly and not adjusting offensively. There’s nothing new to breakdown or point out here.
So the real question becomes what now? It’s an obvious pattern that has defined what has been a disappointing season for Syracuse. The Orange need to find answers quickly just to salvage the remaining schedule. How they try and find those answers could be the difference between this team having a mid-tier but respectable record or an abysmal record at the end of the season.