Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's Raining Threes (and that's not good)

I have no idea what to think of this team at this point after the lopsided loss to Notre Dame. I think Jim Boeheim may have been right in his 2006 'GMac Underrated' tirade; this team may not have won 10 games without Gerry McNamara last year. Consider that it's basically the same team this year with the addition of Paul Harris, and all the returning players are at the least marginally better than last year (some significantly better). Yet this year's squad has struggled to 15 wins.

Many fans have been clamoring for Boeheim to drop the zone defense in favor of man-to-man; last night he played extensive man-to-man from the start of the game, and it got shredded by a three point shooting barrage never seen before at the Carrier Dome. At one point the Fighting Irish went 8-11 from three point range. Go figure. The 103 points was the most the Orange has ever given up in the dome.

According to the halftime boxscore, Syracuse had only 4 fouls at the break, and Notre Dame only 2 turnovers. Any wonder why the Orange gave up 61 points? In the natural course of playing solid defense you're going to have fouls and generate some turnovers. Was anyone playing defense?

Andy Rautins’ defensive specialty is obviously the zone, which he is good at. Foot speed is not one of his strengths. He had to be removed because of the focus on man-to-man for most the evening, thus only 11 minutes of playing time, despite the fact he hit 2-3 three point shots.

Because of the man-to-man focus, Paul Harris got significant playing time, and got his 11 rebounds; he is absolutely a rebound machine. Lot's of turnovers (4), but at least he learned not to take the three pointers outside his range. 4-10 from the floor isn't good, but heck, if he makes one more shot, he's 5-10 and that's good. He plays with so much energy, so much hustle, that I think he's the rare player who actually has to turn down his aggressiveness to be effective.

Darryl Watkins got eaten up having to play man-to-man defense... it cost him five fouls and limited him to only 21 minutes of playing time. Even then, Watkins needed to play more aggressive.

Devo was just plain out awful from the floor. 0 for 11? Egad. I don't know what else could be said about that.

I've tried to be supportive of Josh Wright this year. I really have. But another 4 turnover effort. He has got to learn to take care of the ball, and to run the plays.

Demetris Nichols had 29 points. I've seen some message board posts where fans think that proves he's a big time scorer because he helped bring the team back. I would argue the reverse; because of the terribly lopsided score, there was no pressure, and he was able to get into a rhythm. I really like DNic, but his history has shown that the bigger the game, the less we'll hear from him.

Terrence Roberts played solid, though the Orange could have used more rebounding from him. He did go 4-5 from the free throw line, raising his season above 50% (he's now 44-87, 50.6%), and his career is now at 158-326, or 48.5%.

Isn't it ironic that this year's team is one of the better free throw shooting teams in recent memory (71%)? The one thing that has always haunted the Orange in the past is not an issue this year. Can you imagine what it would be like if they could not make their free throws?

The season is not over; there's still a lot to be played. I'm less concerned about the wins and losses, though that will come back to haunt them. I would like to see better overall play. Teams should be improving over the course of the season, and this team is still where it was in December.

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