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Positive play from freshmen isn't enough for the Orange against the Hokies

Tyus Battle and Taurean Thompson gave their all, but another loss comes the Orange’s way against Virginia Tech.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Virginia Tech
Taurean Thompson couldn't do it alone.
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to look for many positives with Syracuse Orange basketball as their losses continue to pile up, but the play from their two freshmen tonight stood out in many ways.

Tyus Battle and Taurean Thompson have been given key roles this season with the Orange, and while they may have been inconsistent so far, tonight’s performance only gives the Orange good things to look forward too.

Battle finished with 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting from the field. His shot got going tonight as he made three of his six long distance attempts in the game; he didn’t settle every time down the floor as he used his athleticism and quick first-step to get to the rim.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Virginia Tech
Tyus Battle’s play was one of the few positive takeaways from the Orange’s loss.
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

While his tendency to settle for tough shots improved, Battle still had opportunities where he or the team could’ve gotten a better look than a pull-up three. He’ll learn how to control his shot as he gets more experience, but tonight’s aggression from the young-guy showed he isn’t afraid of conference play.

Thompson was the main factor on offense for SU, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds in the performance. He added three blocks to go along with his impressive offensive game, showing an improvement on his weakest area: defense.

He showed aggression from the start demanding the ball and lacking fear when going to the rim. Thompson has a tendency to force a tough shot in situations where he could get to the rim with ease, but his play tonight was one of the only reasons the Orange stayed in the game.

Freshmen can’t do it alone, however, and with poor performances from (admittedly hobbled) Tyler Lydon and John Gillon, Thompson and Battle were left to take forced shots at the end of the game. Syracuse doesn’t need Battle and Thompson to be their stars, but having them as effective role players/starters is a positive the Orange can utilize when all their players are in the flow of the offense.

Many didn’t expect the Orange to win tonight, but any win over a team they aren’t favored against will help Syracuse dig out of the massive whole they have created. If you told coach Jim Boeheim that his two freshman starters were going to combine for 31 points on the road in an ACC game, there is no doubt he would be excited about his chances.

Syracuse now stands at 10-7 overall with a 2-2 record in ACC play — which wasn’t anticipated by many before this year started. As key conference games approach against North Carolina and Notre Dame, Boeheim will be looking for his freshman to keep their confidence high and play with aggression on both ends of the floor.