Calling this game a “must-win” is a little much, but the Syracuse Orange are in dire need of a statement victory on Saturday.
The Orange are coming off of two straight losses — games where they got exposed and embarrassed by teams suited to take apart their weaknesses. It’s early in the season and the Orange have many new pieces to fill in, but fans were expecting wins against top teams this year, and so far, the fans have been disappointed.
Saturday’s game against the North Florida Ospreys will not be a competitive game, but for Syracuse to get back on track they need to make it their own competitive battle.
Will the shooting return?
The Orange are well known for their 2-3 zone, but something coach Jim Boeheim has prided himself on is having great shooting teams. Early in the season it looked like this was one of his best shooting rosters yet, but after the last two games, questions are now being raised.
Syracuse shot 26-percent from three in their most recent loss to Wisconsin, and for a team whose offense revolves around the long ball, that kind of shooting performance won’t do. Tyler Lydon struggled against the Badgers, but with six three point attempts it is clear that the forward is gaining his confidence back.
For the Orange to win big games they are going to need be hitting their long distance shots, so why not get it started against the Ospreys on Sunday?
Point Guard Struggles
Through the first four games the point guard play was one of the most talked about topics. Boeheim had been raving about the improved play from Frank Howard and how transfer John Gillon had provided a much needed depth to the position.
All that praise changed to negativity after the two consecutive losses. The two point guards combined for nine turnovers in the last two games, a stat no coach, especially Boeheim, would be proud of. For the Orange to get back on track they’re going to need their lead guards to figure out what has gone wrong.
Will the stars bounce back?
The Orange have two notable stars in Tyler Lydon and Andrew White III. A slow start for Lydon has seen an increase in success for the White, but against Wisconsin both players showed inconsistent play. White kept the Orange in it in the first half, leading the team in scoring, but something happened over the break that made his second half miserable.
Lydon struggled from distance, finishing one of six from long range, but he made his impact in other areas slightly. Both players need to have big games against tough competition, but against a team like North Florida, the two stars should look to get back in their groove.
Will the Orange contain Dallas Moore?
Moore is the Osprey’s leading scorer averaging just over 20 points per game. The senior guard is having a breakout year as he is shooting lights out from all parts of the court. With Moore shooting over 45-percent from three-point range, the Orange need to make sure they contain the top part of the zone and not let the guard explode.
How will the Orange respond?
It has been a disappointing stretch for the Orange as they failed to prove anything in their first true tests. Both losses (to Wisconsin and South Carolina) showed that this team still has room to grow, and that if any success wants to be accomplished in March they need to figure out an identity.
There is time and no need to panic, but this is a team Jim Boeheim credited as one of his most talented. Though against top competition that hasn’t been seen. North Florida isn’t a good test for the Orange, but they do provide a chance to prove they can beat up on weaker competition again, and gain back some confidence as a group.
Will they win the fight? Find out tomorrow at the Carrier Dome.