Thursday, June 14, 2018

Orange Scoring Troubles Historic for 2017-2018

The Syracuse Orange basketball team struggled mightily to score the past season, especially from the supporting positions.  I had written about the struggles earlier in the season, focusing on the fact that the team was centered around only three scorers.  I had expected the team to expand beyond those three as the season progressed, and while there was some development, there was not much.  Injuries played a part of that, as did departures from the team.
Marek Dolezaj
We did see Marek Dolezaj improve during the tail end of the season and into the NCAA tournament. This is a hopeful stepping stone for him in 2018-2019. Dolezaj scored a career high 20 points in a home win against Wake Forest. In the NCAA tournament, he scored 17 against TCU and 13 against Duke. 

Dolezaj was the fourth best scorer for the Orange in the 2018-2019 season, but he averaged only 5.8 points per game.  He was accurate in his shooting, making 54% of his shots.  The fifth leading scorer was Paschal Chukwu, and he scored 5.4 ppg on 66% shooting. The problem was not their accuracy, but the ability to put them into positions where they could or would take shots.

As I indicated back in December, it has been quite a long time since the fourth leading scorer on the Orange scored that few points per game. 

I have to go back to 2004-05 to find a team where the fourth leading scorer was even remotely close to that low, and that was Terrence Roberts with 7.2 ppg.  Fourth leading scorer on the 2001-02 team was Hakim Warrick with 6.1 ppg.  Fourth leading scored on the 1989-90 team was Dave Johnson with 6.5 ppg.  You would have to go all the way back to 1948-1949 to find a Syracuse team where the fourth leading scorer averaged 5.4 ppg or less.

Of note, the 1963-1964 squad’s fourth leading scorer averaged 6.6 ppg, and it’s fifth leading scorer was a sophomore named Jim Boeheim, who averaged 5.2 ppg.  That team was lead by Dave Bing with 22.2 ppg and Chuck Richards with 22.0 ppg, so while there was not depth in scoring, the top one-two punch of Bing and Richards was quite potent.

The 1961-1962 team was probably the worst team in Syracuse basketball history, taking part in 27 consecutive losses and completing the season 2-22.  The fourth leading scorer on that team was Bob Murray, and he managed 6.3 ppg, better than Dolezaj’s 5.8 ppg.

No, we still have to go back to the 1948-1949 team to find a case where the fourth leading scorer put up less than Syracuse had in 2017-2018.

The return of the entire starting lineup from last season will almost certainly rectify that by itself. Natural improvement of each player will make a difference. Add in the incoming freshman class, and we should definitely see more scoring from the fourth and fifth players on offense. 

The odds of the Orange getting historically low production from that position on offense is highly unlikely to occur again.

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