Sometimes it’s the lack of movement on offense; sometimes it’s the lack of execution in late game scenarios. Today the kryptonite was the inability to defend the countless options Notre Dame showcased.
The Syracuse Orange were dominated from three, allowing the Fighting Irish to get countless open opportunities from beyond the arc. The zone looked slow and inferior as the extra pass to the corner found V.J. Beachem open time-and-time again for a momentum ending three.
The famous 2-3 zone that coach Jim Boeheim has put out forever has been successful due to the personnel on the floor. The zone works to perfection when the top guards are lanky and athletic, and the two players on the block are quick enough to help and get back to their zone. Unfortunately, that has not been the case this year as the personal on the floor has shown an inability to stay in front of their opponent.
The Fighting Irish shot 42.3% from three finishing with 11 total. Syracuse been a deadly three-point shooting team at times this year, but Notre Dame stole the show from the Orange once again.
Tyler Lydon tried to do all he could to dig SU out of their hole but it was too little too late. He finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds and looked as confident as ever stepping into his shot. It’s good to see Lydon getting into a groove, but with little help behind him all his efforts are going to waste.
If the Orange want to somehow end up playing in March then they’re going to need to win games like today’s. Their resume is getting worse as each game goes by and with so few opportunities remaining the Orange need to act fast. A win against Duke would look nice to say the least, but if the defensive performance matches today’s then there will be no chance of a March miracle.
Tyus Battle showed up again today finishing with 17 points and three steals. His improvement has taken a massive leap in the past five games—he now averages 15.8 points over his last five performances. His shot has improved and his desire to get in the lane has finally showed up, it’s just a shame that all of this individual success has to end in numerous losses.
It’s tough to look at the positives as the Orange continue to disappoint, but this is where they have arrived after a devastating season. The defense needs to improve for any team success to be seen, and it needs to happen fast. Players are improving and confidence is building for Battle, but team success is what matters most and right now, Syracuse seems lost.