Thursday, November 23, 2006

Syracuse Beats Charlotte

Syracuse beat Charlotte 79-67 in a game that looks like a blow out on paper. But if not for a hot night of shooting by the Orange, and a cold night by Charlotte, this game would have gone the other way.

Syracuse was outrebounded by 6 by a smaller team, had 17 turnovers (vs 12 for Charlotte), gave Charlotte 14 offensive rebounds as opposed to only 5 by the Orange (though to be fair, when you make as many shots as SU made, there aren’t a lot of offensive rebounds to get), and Charlotte had 20 more opportunities to score from the floor than Syracuse. That’s typically a recipe for disaster!

Fortunately, the Orange found their shooting grove. 11-22 from three point range, a 50% clip. You’re not going to lose too many games when you shoot like that. Charlotte shot 11-37 from the arc, at 29.7%, and its tough to win when you shoot that poorly (I’ll give SU’s defense some credit on that).

The free throw line was surely the biggest difference. The Orange went a blistering 24 of 28 from the charity stripe, or 85.6%! Paul Harris and Josh Wright both went 9-10. That’s something you love to see: your primary ball handlers shooting the lights out on the free throw line. It definitely helped the free throw percentage that Terrence Roberts saw a lot of bench time for poor play, and Darryl Watkins missed the game because of his broken nose.

Meanwhile, Charlotte made only 12 of 22 free throws, or 54.5%. If Syracuse had its typical poor free throw shooting night and went 14 for 28, and if Charlotte had made a mere 72% of its free throws, a 14 point swing would have occurred, and the Orange would have been trailing by 2 instead of winning by 12. It can never be stressed how important those free shots are, and as Orange fans, we’re all quite aware of how painful this misses can be.

Bad Sign from the Game: Terrence Roberts showed signs of the inconsistency that has plagued his career; he failed to show up for this game. Even worse, this was a game we needed him to be prepared for as Watkins was going to be unable to play. Roberts also apparently reverted to his old form of always putting the ball on the floor before going to the hoop, a frustrating habit for a guy who doesn’t handle the ball well anyhow, and it puts the ball within reach of all the defenders around him. The one thing I know, as a short guy, is I love it when the big guys put the ball within my reach.

SU’s perimeter game was outstanding, as previously noted. But the team shot only 11-26 from inside the arc, or 42%. That’s not a terrible percentage, but it’s not good either. Those are your ‘easy’ shots. The Orange are going to need more of an inside presence.

Anyhow, Syracuse is 5-0. We all have plenty to be thankful for in our daily lives, basketball games being such a small part of it. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, and Happy Thanksgiving.


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