If you’ve watched the Syracuse Orange as of late, there’s one thing for certain: something’s up with Tyus Battle.
The freshman guard is looked at as an athletic slasher who can take his defender off the dribble towards the rim when he wants to. Unfortunately, Battle hasn’t been that kind of impact player in the last two games due to an illness he got last week.
His explosive first step has taken a step back as the guard has not been 100-percent since that illness came into play. Despite his buzzer-beater three at Clemson, Battle has been a non-factor on offense in both of the Orange’s last two losses. This isn’t the player Battle really is. Syracuse is a much tougher team to beat when they have their starting guard at full strength.
Battle is averaging 2.5 points per game over his last two outings while shooting 2-for-12 from the field and 0-for-6 from deep. Battle isn’t the most lethal shooter, but the 6-foot-6 guard has grown miles since his first day on campus. SU needs Battle to play like his true self because his ability to get in the lane opens up space for the Orange’s lethal long range shooters.
These last two losses have been single digit outcomes and while “what if’s” don’t prove anything, the Orange would’ve had a much easier shot at pulling away late with a fully healthy Battle.
Coach Jim Boeheim addressed Battle’s current state during the Louisville press conference and stated what the fans in attendance saw: Battle is not right.
“I think Tyus is not back to peak shape. I don’t think he had it at all,” Boeheim said when asked about his freshman guard. Frank Howard provided the Orange some of the best back up point guard play he’s given them all year long, but this team is going no where if Battle can’t contribute to his highest capability.
Syracuse has been off since late Monday night and don’t play until Sunday at Georgia Tech. That should give Battle enough time to rest up and get back into peak shape. The final four games for the Orange are over a 14-day stretch. So heading into the ACC Tournament, and hopefully the Big Dance, Battle should be ready to go at full speed.
Battle is only a freshman, but the impact he has had on this year’s team has stuck out on both sides of the ball. The Orange need Battle for this final run. And if he contributes like Syracuse fans know he can, the team will be in good shape for a possible March Madness return.