One area of concern should be an offense shooting 43.4% from the field this season. That number ranks 242nd in the country which isn’t great. Now add that with the fact that the Orange are averaging 65 field goal attempts per game, which is 28th in the nation and you can see how an improvement shooting the ball could make a major difference for Syracuse’s season.
We can all agree that one of the issues has been the ball and player movement in the half-court offense. Too often Syracuse has had possessions where four players watch one teammate try and take on the defense by themselves, or where the Orange pass the ball around the perimeter without making the defense react and recover.
Looking at this shot chart from CBB Analytics and you can see that Syracuse has been abysmal in the mid-range. It makes sense when you think back to the games against Tennessee and Gonzaga where the Orange settled for contested jumpers. This 20% is dragging down the offense and putting the defense in a tough position stopping opponents in transition.
On the positive side, Syracuse has taken over 50% of their attempts inside the lane. The Orange have multiple players who can beat their initial defender and get into the teeth of the defense.
Now, they’ve got to find ways to convert more of these opportunities into baskets. Too often shots are coming away from the rim rather than right at the rim. While it’s expected that Judah Mintz and JJ Starling might pull up rather than attack bigger players at the rim, it does offer that the Orange could do a better job of having forwards dive to the rim to collect a pass rather than linger at the arc.
Starting forwards Chris Bell and Justin Taylor have attempted five free throws each this season. That’s as many as Maliq Brown and two less than Qadir Copeland. While Bell and Taylor are asked to provide spacing with their shooting, they are big enough to try and get to the rim either off the dribble or as an option for a pass. The more shots the Orange can get at the rim, the better.
For a team that looks to be more reliant on their offense, it’s going to be important for Syracuse to convert a higher percentage of their attempts.