Three lessons from Syracuse’s 93-62 win over Brown University
After a 16-day layoff related to COVID-19, the Syracuse Orange Men’s basketball team returned tonight, beating Brown University 93:62 at the Dome. Syracuse was red hot from the field and beyond the bow, shooting 35-61 out of the field and 13-21 out of three.
Buddy Boeheim was the best scorer of Syracuse with a total of 28 points in the 11:19 shooting. Three of the four other players in Syracuse’s starting rotation scored more than ten points in victory. Overall, this has been one of the best basketball players Syracuse has played this season, but not without some issues worth pointing out. Here are our three takeaways from tonight’s victory.
Takeaway 1: Three-point shooting looked scorching hot
With Syracuse and Brown both out of action for over two weeks, no one knew what the extended sack would mean for the two teams going into the match tonight. In the first minutes of the first half, however, one thing was crystal clear: Syracuse fired the lights out of the arch. In the first five minutes of the first half, the oranges hit with 5-6 shots from three. Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard and Cole Swider each scored a threesome, along with Jimmy Boeheim, who faced two threesomes. This glowing shooting could be a scary sight for any of Syracuse’s future opponents, given that so many players participated in this shooting range at the start of the game. Four of the five starters from Syracuse made a three in the first five minutes of half. When the first half was over, Syracuse made seven of twelve three-way attempts, even after many missed free throws, and at the end of half remained in firm control of the matchup, leading Brown 38:32.
The second half was more of the same story: direct fire from Syracuse across the arch along with efficient gates within. Syracuse scored 3-3 from outside the arch in the first three minutes of half, with two from Buddy and one from Girard. As the half went on, we saw Syracuse’s scoring shift within the arc, closing out of the field as a team 6-8. Efficient shooting over and within the arc helped the Oranges take a 23 point lead after seven minutes in the second and didn’t look back for the rest of the game. The Orange beat Brown 93-62, finishing the game over 55% out of the field and out of three. If that heavy shooting continues in Syracuse, especially from three onwards, expect some exciting attacks from Syracuse in the future.
Conclusion 2: is Syracuse’s defense finally making a positive difference to the Games?
Syracuse’s defense as a team ahead of tonight’s game could be described as spotty, to say the least. There have been a few games where the Orange’s 2-3 zone worked as expected, but for most games, Syracuse’s patented defense scheme had more negative than positive effects. Be it with players who do not communicate effectively with each other, players who do not effectively turn off their screens, this team has simply acted too often on the defensive this season.
Tonight, however, there seemed to be signs that the Syracuse defense had had a positive impact on the team’s performance. In the first half, Syracuse scored a total of seven steals, 2 blocks and forced 12 turnovers. Their swarm-like zone resulted in 11 fast break points and 9 points less sales for the orange. In the second half, Syracuse only scored 2 steals and 3 blocks while forcing only four turnovers. However, they were still able to keep Brown off the field at 12:39 in the second half. Orange was able to capitalize on the brown bear’s mistakes and achieved 12 quick break points and 13 points less sales in the second run. The Syracuse defense just looked effective and sovereign, which made the fans happy. If this trend continues, expect Syracuse to gain some momentum in the New Year.
Takeaway 3: #Freethrowsmatter
The Syracuse free throw shooting tonight was an issue that Jim Boeheim and his staff hope will not carry over into the future. During the season, Syracuse shoots 75.8% at 14.4 tries per game this season. The percentage of orange off the line was good enough to give them the 40th highest percentage in D-1 basketball. Tonight, however, their ranking meant nothing after the opening tip. The Orange hit 43.8% off the line while shooting 7-16 in the first half, a number well below their season average in terms of efficiency. Jesse Edwards shot 2-5, Jimmy Boeheim shot 3-5 and Cole Swider shot 0-2 off the line in the first half. These numbers are not what is expected of some of the team’s best players.
In the second half, Syracuse looked more like herself, shooting 75% off the line in 3 out of four shots. The Orange finished the game with a 50% shot from the stripe and made 10 free throws out of 20 tries. This amazing proportion of free throws, which hopefully is not a trend, needs to be addressed by Boeheim and his staff regardless of the great team win tonight. This is a trend the Orange doesn’t want to be identified with in the future as they have one of the best three-point starting lineups in all of D-1 basketball. While this may be an overreaction and just a rash, free throw shooting is one of the most underrated ways to win a basketball game, and Syracuse needs to make sure that this one-night problem doesn’t become a trend that follows them into the world Future.