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Syracuse men’s basketball: are there solutions for fixing the Orange offense?

No reinforcements are coming so what can be done to generate better looks

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange were expected to take a step back on the offensive end in 2022. Losing Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim along with Cole Swider took away a lot of last year’s scoring.

So far this season, Syracuse is struggling to create easy opportunities for themselves. It’s not just one area that is struggling. Here are some of the offensive numbers and where Syracuse ranks in D1 this season:

  • FG %: 42.9% (250th)
  • 2-pt FG %: 47.3% (292nd)
  • 3-pt FG %: 32.5% (234th)
  • 3-pt makes per game: 5.9 (301st)
  • Assists per game: 12.1 (264th)
  • Points per game: 70.4 (229th)
NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

So how does Jim Boeheim and his staff fix this? Here’s a couple of suggestions:

Apply Pressure

I’m not talking “40 Minutes of Hell” here but when Jesse Edwards goes to the bench, Syracuse needs to ramp up the pressure. Look at the roster. A five from the group of Judah/Symir/Benny/Bell/Taylor/Copeland/Brown/JBA/Hima has size and length and with Hima as the last man, a lethal rim protector. Syracuse can speed up the game and look to create easy baskets off turnovers, especially when they have a group of non-scorers on the floor. There is enough depth to use pressure in spots to get opponents out of rhythm.

More minutes for Taylor and Bell together

Joe Girard can’t be the only shooting threat on the floor. Good teams saw the Richmond game and decided to take away his space and make the other players take and make shots. I know Chris Bell’s rebounding is atrocious but he can make shots in catch and shoot situations. Justin Taylor isn’t ready to lead the offense but he can provide spacing and he’s able to get into the mid-range to score. This isn’t suggesting that both start, but the duo can give some better floor spacing for Judah, Joe and Jesse.

Half-court sets

Off-ball Joe looked like a great idea for four games, but the last three have seen him taken out of the flow of the offense. What’s been left is throwing the ball to Jesse in the post to hope he can score or waiting for Judah to drive and take contested shots. Teams will give Benny Williams the 18-22 foot jumpers all day and he’s not yet a threat to put the ball on the floor from out there.

Here’s a great example of Syracuse just going through some weak screening actions and hoping that a perimeter player can break down a defender. There’s no purpose to the motions- no one is cutting hard to the rim. nothing to collapse the defense, outside of Judah no one on this roster is breaking down a defender out of this set.

Last year’s offense put pressure on defenses. If teams left one of the perimeter players they’d get burned which led to many pick and roll plays where Jesse got free runs to the rim. With this year’s roster, Syracuse needs to look for backdoor cuts/lobs, crisp ball movement and far less dribbling.

The next month offers a great opportunity to cure some of the issues facing this team. Thinking that the Orange will suddenly turn into a defensive juggernaut that will win a bunch of 53-49 games is wishful thinking. Syracuse needs to use the depth and athleticism they have to make it easier to get some baskets. If not, we’ll be doing a lot of off-season soccer and field hockey content here.