Fool’s gold or not, the Syracuse Orange may have figured something out against the Miami Hurricanes.
The Orange moved Tyler Lydon to center Wednesday evening, playing a smaller lineup that saw John Gillon and Tyus Battle at the guard spots and Andrew White III and Taurean Thompson filling in at the other forward positions. This was an uncommon scenario for Lydon as he usually plays the three or four position in coach Jim Boeheim’s system.
The switch worked like magic as Lydon had one of his best performances of the season, finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds. Lydon’s impact was seen from the tip as his position down-low allowed him to get easy buckets around the rim, opening himself up for long rang shots throughout the game.
Lydon at the center position gives SU a disadvantage in height, but his ability to score from all areas of the floor provides a mismatch against any defender on any given night. Centers Lydon will be facing are most likely going to be bigger and slower than him which should give Lydon the ability to beat the opponent off the dribble.
Boeheim’s decision to put Lydon at center opened up the entire offense especially when Lydon played the high post. Lydon’s deadly shot always makes him a threat when he catches the ball at the high post, but since he’s surrounded by so many shooters, Lydon has the ability to attack the rim and dish the ball out to his open teammates who are ready to knocked down a three.
Finally Lydon and White performed well in the same game, and Lydon’s move to center could be credited for that. Lydon’s position down low and at the high post opened up the wing position for White as he had more room to create and knock down his go to three-point shot.
With Thompson playing alongside Lydon down low the Orange now have two bigs who can hit a jump shot with confidence, opening up the offense even more. When Lydon catches the ball at the high post, Thompson can either space out to the wing or find an open position down low allowing easy baskets for himself and Lydon.
When you play the center position you will occasionally find yourself with your back to the basket and with a smaller defender behind you. Lydon had a few of these scenarios and used them to his advantage time-and-time again. Lydon scored with his back to the basket using his shot as a weapon to allow him to finish inside with ease.
Lydon can’t play center at the NBA level; he’s plain and simply to short. But if this is a sign of what’s to come for the rest of the season, Boeheim and crew may be able to make some quiet noise with their new and improved center.