We know that college basketball coaches like to pull from what works in the NBA. We’ve seen more of the Syracuse Orange opponents adopt a five-out strategy to launch 3 after 3 against the zone. So if you’re a member of the Syracuse coaching staff, what can you pull for next year’s team from these two teams?
Boston Celtics: Disruptive defense
Jim Boeheim has come out and said he expects that the 22-23 Orange will need to lean on their defense to generate offense. He hinted that we may see some man-to-man defense and with a deeper and more athletic roster, he might want to borrow from Ime Udoka’s principles. The Celtics used their versatility to defend the perimeter and relied on Robert Williams’ rim protection to deter their opponents from venturing deep into the paint. Jesse Edwards doesn’t have Williams’ athleticism but a 7-footer in college can deter opponents by simply using his size and disrupting opponents. Edwards needs to control his fouls, especially those silly reaches or over the back ones which send him to the bench.
Will Boeheim use the more athletic freshmen class to implement some pressure defense in hopes of generating more transition offense? Can he get his player to commit to buying in on that end and forcing the ball to opponents’ weaker offensive threats? A lot of the Celtics post-season success was forcing teams out of their offense and getting up the floor to get clean looks and a Syracuse team which might lack shooting could benefit from this approach.
Golden State Warriors: Intentional Movement
The beauty of what this Warriors dynasty has done is how they force defenses to guard them for a full clock. There is no standing and watching as the players move themselves and the ball to get open looks. Sure there are times where they run isolation to expose a mismatch but a lot of the cutting and moving they do off the ball is what drives this machine.
Last year Syracuse struggled when the team went to isolation ball. Players were stagnant on the perimeter and good defenses could lock in and force the Orange into poor shots. Next year’s Syracuse squad will have the threat of Joseph Girard on the perimeter and the size of Jesse Edwards around the rim to keep defenses occupied. Can other players be developed to read the defense and move to open spots for clean looks? Can Syracuse not only make the pass but also the extra pass to turn good shots into great shots? Will the Orange force their opponents to defend the full floor or will they settle for high pick and roll action that leaves three players stationary?
The Celtics ran away with Game 1 and looked to be in control but Steve Kerr adjusted his rotation and went away from his veterans to match Boston’s athletes. Ime Udoka mixed up his defensive looks to try and confuse the Warriors. They battled one another by going small and big at various times trying to force their opponent to play differently. With an expanded roster next season, Syracuse should have options. They should have the ability to play a group which can full-court press, or another line-up to optimize outside shooting, and if an opponent wants to play three-guards then the Orange have the ability to match. Will Jim Boeheim and staff find ways to force their opponents to respond and adjust to them?
Being able to play well on both ends of the floor will be critical for the Orange as they look to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2023.