We should’ve seen this coming.
The Syracuse Orange returned to form in a bad way against the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday night. A lot of familiar issues flared up and the Orange lost a game in very similar fashion to how they’ve lost games earlier this season. All of that culminated in a 77-55 to Duke.
Here’s our three takeaways from another frustrating night in Central New York:
Regression to the mean
Just because recent teams haven’t had success against Syracuse from three doesn’t mean that the Orange have solved all of their perimeter defense problems. Syracuse continues to leave guys wide open on the arc, creating high-quality looks for their opponents. And even mediocre three-point shooting teams like Duke can take advantage of that. The Blue Devils pulled away with sharpshooting after the first five minutes passed. It’s one of the main problems that has plagued the Orange all season, and a big reason why the Orange has lost games.
What is this concept you call passing?
One of the other reasons why Syracuse has lost games this season is its over-reliance on isolation ball and dribble-drive moves. Ball movement stagnated once again and many Orange players tried to brute force their way to the basket with little success. Syracuse, not just this season, has always looked better when the ball is constantly moving and players aren’t constantly dribbling and isolating. Once the Orange fell behind, players tried to burden the load on themselves, resulting in poor shot-selection and one-shot opportunities on the offensive end.
Push and pressure
The small stretches in which Syracuse looked good against the Duke came off two concepts: causing turnovers early and running the floor to score quickly. Those are the strengths of this Orange team and it allowed them to take a small early lead against the Blue Devils. Once Duke started settling down and stopped forcing opportunities themselves, Syracuse couldn’t force the Blue Devils into a mistake. That, in turn, didn’t allow the Orange to run the floor which forced Syracuse to crawl back to the old habits that are highlighted above.