Posted on: September 16, 2020 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

first_img Published on March 21, 2018 at 9:31 pm DETROIT — Jim Boeheim was as cheery as he’d been all year. Sitting at his press conference after upsetting third-seeded Michigan State, Boeheim jokingly made up stats and heaped praise on his team.He was surprised when the NCAA moderator told him he’d be taking his last question just 10 minutes in, saying “when we win I don’t mind talking,” which drew a round of laughter from the room.But just before that, in a short, unprovoked moment, Boeheim seemed worried. He had just spent time discussing how SU’s defense kept earning it wins, and how its big three did just enough along the way.Then he pivoted.“There’s some teams you can’t stop,” Boeheim said. “And you get in these situations in this tournament where you have to score.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBoeheim might not have mentioned No. 2 seed Duke (28-7, 13-5 Atlantic Coast) by name, but it was clear who he was alluding to. And Boeheim is right. No. 11 seed Syracuse (23-13, 8-10 Atlantic Coast) has scraped together three wins by a combined 11 points by relying on a stifling defense.That defense has been so strong that it can overcome SU failing to score more than 60 points in a game because it doesn’t let opponents reach that mark. But there’s only so many times that will work. And Boeheim knows it.The Orange’s struggles on offense aren’t new. The team scored 49 points in a home loss to Notre Dame and averaged 58 points in two wins over Pittsburgh, a team that went winless in the conference. Some days shots fell, but for the most part the Orange’s offense lacked consistency.Fans have seemed to embrace the grind-it-out approach that’s worked for Syracuse this past week, relishing when national media members break out their annual think pieces about why the zone might be bad for college basketball. Even if SU’s game isn’t aesthetically pleasing, it’s working.The players, though, also recognize that mucking up the game — despite it being the way Syracuse has won its first three games — needs to change.“This wasn’t ideal for us,” point guard Frank Howard said about the game flow after the TCU win, while laughing alongside guard Tyus Battle.Emma Comtois | Digital EditorSo much of the zone’s enhanced success comes because it’s usually the first time an opponent is seeing it. ASU, TCU and Michigan State are all teams the Orange hasn’t played in several years, let alone this season.Arizona State tried to shoot right over the top of the zone, often missing badly in the second half. TCU got gun shy, not even attempting a 3-pointer for eight minutes after starting off the game 3-for-5.“It’s hard to simulate it if you had a week to do it,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said before the game. “It’s almost impossible when you have a day to do it.”The problem with the Blue Devils lies in their familiarity. Duke’s second-leading scorer, senior guard Grayson Allen, will be going up against the Orange zone for the sixth time in the last four years.Moreover, Duke’s coach Mike Krzyzewski knows the zone because he’s started using zone principles, taught to him by Boeheim, with his own team.The style of the last game between these two teams mirrored that of the past three SU games. Both teams struggled to score — Duke missed its first 15 3-pointers — and the Blue Devils still came out on top by 16 as SU was held to a season-low 44 points.Boeheim likes to joke that Krzyzewski shouldn’t be allowed to use the zone. It’s because Duke is one of the few teams in the country that can beat Syracuse at its own game. Boeheim knows that, and it’s what caused his ominous warning in an otherwise happy press conference.Whether it’s Battle and Howard getting more involved early, or getting a tangible contribution from Oshae Brissett, who went 2-of-13 in the first matchup between these two, something has to change. The Orange can, and should, try to win the game on the strength of its defense. But starting now, its offense needs to do more.“Today we got away with (not scoring),” Boeheim continued after the MSU win. “But that won’t happen again.”Tomer Langer is a senior staff writer for The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at tdlanger@syr.edu or @tomer_langer. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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