Sunday, December 16, 2018

Where to Rank Tyus Battle?

I honestly don’t know where to rank Tyus Battle in terms of all time Syracuse players.  Fortunately, there still a majority of this season to be played out.  Right now, I think he’s been a very good player on an offensively challenged team, and that has inflated some of his statistics.

Tyus Battle Syracuse Orange
Tyus Battle
Syracuse has played a lot of close games the past three years, and therefore a lot of opportunities for game winning heroics have existed.  And to Battle’s credit, he has taken advantage of most of those opportunities and succeeded.  That’s a plus for him.  

Battle is very good at isolation offense, and that has helped Syracuse when the offense has stagnated.   He is decent in the zone defense at Syracuse; not outstanding, but definitely up to the task of playing the position well and there’s not much to criticize there.   He does have only 9 steals so far this year… which is an anomaly for him, and very low for a SU guard after 10 games.  Looking back over recent history, Brandon Triche was the last guard to average that few steals, and he played about 2/3 the minutes of Battle.

He is not a solid three point shooter, he doesn’t rebound as well as you would like a 2-guard to rebound, and he has low assist totals for a guy who plays 40 minute almost every game.  He does not play well when there is poor point guard play, indicating his is dependent on his teammates to help him out. At the same time, I’ve always thought great players elevated those around them, and I’m not sure I see any of his teammates improve because of his presence on the court.  

If you compare him to a guy like Andy Rautins, the contrasts are obvious.  Battle has an NBA style of game and athleticism, so he may get a shot at the NBA, whereas Rautins was really never going to make that league.  But as collegiate players, Rautins had a better rounded game as a senior than Battle does as a junior.  Rautins made nearly 41% of this three point shots, averaged 4.9 assists per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, and had 2 steals a game.  Rautins couldn’t beat his man off the dribble and get into the lane like Battle can.  But he definitely improved the game of those around him, and he was outstanding at playing the top of the SU Zone.  

Back in 1961-1962 a sophomore guard name Carl Vernick led the Orangmen in scoring, by far, with 16.5 ppg.  He has 5.4 rebounds a game, and had a couple of games with 30+ points.  Vernick, while the best offensive player on that team, was an okay college player.  He looked much better because he had to step up compared to his teammates. That Orangemen team was 2-22 for the season, the worst in SU history.

New SU head coach Fred Lewis came aboard and started recruiting better players.  Vernick’s numbers started to drop, and by his senior year he averaged 2.6 ppg.  Players like Dave Bing, Chuck Richards, Norm Goldsmith and Jim Boeheim were simply better than him.  

I’m not suggesting Tyus Battle is Carl Vernick.  I just wanted to use Vernick as an illustration for a basketball player’s stats being highly influenced by the context of the team he is in and the players around him.  Vernick is an extreme example.

Battle is also not a Billy Owens, Carmelo Anthony or Lawrence Moten. Those guys took teams with young or little talent, and rose them to a very successful level.  SU’s teams with Battle have been borderline NCAA teams.  Owens carried the 1990-91 Orangemen to a 26-6 overall record, a 12-4 Big East season, with 23.2 ppg, 3.5 apg, and 11.6 rpg.  That team was 26-4 going into post season play.  Dave Johnson stepped up beside Owens to help with the offense, but make no mistake about how dominating Owens was.

Battle has shown moments of being able to dominate games; the second half of the recent Georgetown game is such an example.  It was amazing how he dominated the Hoyas in the second half; it was disappointing that as a junior guard, that it required being called out by his head coach at half time in order for him to step up. 

Battle is going to end up a top 15 scorer for Syracuse by the end of this year; if he stayed around another year he would move to #2 in scoring and have a shot at #1.    I don’t think it he is one of the best 15 players ever for the Orange; at least not on what I have seen yet.

Yet, he is going to leave us with many memorable game winning plays, a career full of heroic moments.  And I’m grateful for that.  

Thursday, December 13, 2018


My friends over at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician (TNIAAM) are running a fundraiser to help financially disadvantaged kids attend the Camping World Bowl to see the Syracuse Orangemen take on the West Virginia Mountaineers.  

The goal is to get to $14,444.  TNIAAM is working with Sports 4 the Kids, which provides sports and recreational opportunities for Central Florida’s financially disadvantaged youth.

If you would like to contribute to the donations,  you can go to the GoFundMe Fundraiser for the event.

Please consider making a donation.  Most fans are donating $44 in honor of the Syracuse 44 Tradition, but any amount is appreciated.