Over the Syracuse Orange men basketball team’s past three games, they have looked like an entirely different team than earlier this season, and it all stems from their offense.
While we all knew Syracuse was going to be an offense-heavy team this season, at times they have just looked out of sorts in terms of creating the right shots and putting players in the right spots to get favorable looks.
However, all that seems to be ancient history after watching these past three games against Wake Forest, NC State, and Louisville. Syracuse’s offense has looked every bit the part like many analysts projected before the season began.
Over the past three games, Syracuse as a team shot 57.1% on 100-175 from the field, 54.1% on 33-61 shots from three, and 77.8% from the charity stripe on 44-52 shooting. To put these offensive numbers into perspective in their four games prior to their three-game winning streak, Syracuse shot 40.9% on 98-240 shooting from the field, 27.7% on 27-99 shooting from three, and 69.9% on 51-73 from the charity stripe.
If you look at the shooting numbers from all 23 games Syracuse has played so far this season, they shoot 46.1% from the field, 37.7% from three, and 72.4% from the charity stripe.
Just skimming through these numbers, it's clear that Syracuse over their past three contests has shot the lights out, and is more efficient than they have ever been all season. The question that now remains is: what changed in Syracuse’s offensive approach these past three games that have the offense connecting the way it has been?
Part of the answer is Syracuse’s improved ability to recognize what the defenses throw at them, adjusting, and making the make the right plays to get teammates in favorable positions.
“They switched so he’s (J. Boeheim) got a six-foot guy on him, you know Jimmy came up and if Joe couldn't hit him directly (J.Edwards) Jimmy could get him,” said Jim Boeheim regarding if there was a team-oriented effort to feed Jesse Edwards inside following Saturday’s 92-69 win against Lousiville.
“They cant come off Cole and they cant come off Buddy, in the first half they came off Buddy, and Jesse made a great pass and got him wide open. So when he does that the next time they’re gonna stay with Buddy and Jesse gets a lay-up. Joe did a great job with that and Jimmy did a good job finding him. Everything we tried to do tonight worked really well... again Louisville played two good games in a row and is not that bad a team so it was a really good effort,” Jim Boeheim said.
Besides Syracuse's ability to read defenses and the openings they give them, another part of the answer is that key contributors in Syracuse’s offense have just played better, taking more pressure off of Syracuse’s go-to scoring options.
Two of those key contributors over the past three games have been Cole Swider and Joe Girard. Swider has played his best basketball of the season over this past three-game stretch.
Swider during Syracuse’s three-game winning streak is averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, 0.6 assists, and 0.6 steals per game while shooting 70.3 percent from the field, 82% from three, and 100% from the line.
Girard on the other hand has been a more efficient distributor while still being the shooting threat that won over Orange faithful.
Girard over this same stretch has averaged 15.2 points, 6 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 40.6 percent from the field, 46.6% from three, and 100% from the charity stripe.
When Swider is raining buckets down at an efficient clip and Girard is facilitating the offense, Syracuse succeeds. The proof is in the pudding.
While the bench production has fluctuated throughout the entire season, if Syracuse can get the best out of Swider and Girard this will open up opportunities for the Boeheim brothers and Edwards to get better looks and have less pressure on them to create offense themselves.