Wednesday’s 85-73 win against Seton Hall had some unusual statistical anomalies, and they pretty much sum up Syracuse’s season to this point. Syracuse out rebounded the Pirates 54-29, a margin of +25. That’s outstanding at any level of play, and when these Orange players want to rebound, they can rebound with the best. Green, Ongenaet and Onuaku had 13, 11, and 14 rebounds respectively.
Yet, despite a +25 rebound edge, both teams had the exact same number of shot opportunities: 63 shots from the floor, and 26 from the free throw line. Syracuse was much better at converting from the floor (50.8% versus 36.5%), which was the difference in final scoring. It is not very often that you see two teams with the exact same number of scoring opportunities. And while I do not have access to the numbers, I am fairly confident that it never happens when one team out rebounds the other by +25.
How do you out rebound your opponent by 25, and take the exact same number of shots? One way is that you turn the ball over 22 times, as opposed to only 11 by your opponent. Sloppy play.
The Orange have some of the best talent in the country this year, and on any given night they can probably beat the best there is in the country. However, they are also capable of losing to the most mediocre team in the country. The team definitely hustles, they seemingly never give up, but they also have breakdowns in judgment and mental mistakes. They have not yet learned how to handle the pressure moments on both ends of the court; when to step up big on defense, and when to make the smart play on offense.
As much as Syracuse fans are suffering this year, I think that the games from this season are great learning opportunities for next year. If the whole team comes back, and you add in an Eric Devendorf (even at 50%) and Andy Rautins (who should be at 100%), it will be a veteran team by current NCAA standards, and loaded with talent.
The Big East tournament and post season this year (whichever tournament) should be fun to watch. But if this year’s team can learn from their mistakes, they should be a very tough team to handle next year.