Friday, March 07, 2008

Controlling the Boards against the Hall

I would have thought the Orange had no realistic chance of making the NCAA at this point. I do not think they have enough quality wins on the schedule, and their performance down the stretch has not been impressive: they just snapped a 3 game losing streak. But I have seen some of the experts still have the Orange ‘on the bubble’, and a win against Marquette and a couple big wins in the Big East tournament ‘might’ put them in. I’m skeptical that will be enough, but we will see, and hope for the best.

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very strange indeed that the Orange shoot lights out against Pitt and control the boards against Seton Hall and still manage to keep us all nervous. After watching the game against Pitt, it is very unlikely that they can beat us again. The 2 teams we will have problems with in the Garden are Notre Dame and Louisville. The Irish and Cards make their opponents pay when turnovers or miscues arise. Coach Boeheim also has to figure out a way to get Rick Jackson in the rotation (10 mpg or more), the reason is obvious. Green and Onuaku both were in foul trouble Wednesday night, and the Orange got very lucky Green didn't foul out. Scoop Jardine can also play a huge role in the Garden with his ball handling and playmaking abilities. I checked the Big East standings, and it's a crap shoot trying to figure out who the Orange will play on Wednesday. My only hope is that we don't draw Louisville on Thursday. Louisville is destined to make a big run in March. Coach Pitino has his team hitting on all points heading to New York. Go Orange! 30,000+ standing on Saturday!!
Deep South Orange Fan