The Syracuse Orange crawled to start the game against the Cornell Big Red, but the Orange tightened up play and starting sinking better shots to wrestle control away from the Big Red. Better rebounding and defense stalled out the Cornell offense which allowed Syracuse to grab a 78-63 win.
Here’s our three takeaways from a fifth-straight Orange win:
Waking up the wings
A big reason why Syracuse fell behind early was due to a familiar problem - wing play. For almost the whole first half, it seemed like that every wing combination that Jim Boeheim threw out on the floor couldn’t cover the corner or the baseline. At the same time, the wings couldn’t support Jesse Edwards in the rebounding effort, which allowed Cornell to grab quick offensive boards and turn them into threes. Finally, after two timeouts in the first half, Boeheim’s message got through to the frontcourt and the forwards finally provided more pressure and chased more rebounds to deny Cornell’s shooting opportunities. The wing adjustments were crucial for Syracuse to stop the bleeding and take control of the game.
Not your typical off-ball guard
When Joe Girard was moved to the “off-ball” guard, I think a lot of us expected a catch-and-shoot player. That is not Girard.
Girard is still a player that is going to create shots by dribbling around the perimeter and breaking his defender down so that he gets an inch of space. The main reason why Girard is in this role is to prevent him from being the primary ball handler, which in turn allows him to focus more on creating his own shot. Syracuse needed that shot creation ability to keep pace with Cornell in the first half. Luckily for the Orange, Girard’s early December shooting woes seem far behind him.
Fortunately the Orange did not taste much of their own medicine.
Syracuse famously completed that comeback by speeding up Virginia, forcing turnovers and bad shot selection from the Cavaliers. Cornell’s natural pace and style of play almost forced the Orange down that same route as the early Syracuse offense was defined by turnovers and bad shot selection. It’s been a worrying trend for the Orange all season - if an opponent gets out to a lead early, Syracuse tries to aggressively grab the lead back quickly while ignoring the surefire ways to generate offense (giving the ball to Jesse Edwards). The Orange need to control the ball and take care of the ball as ACC play begins next.