Last night in the Carrier Dome, Syracuse put on one of the more pathetic showings I’ve ever witnessed in front of a home crowd. They got blown out by Seton Hall, a team currently sitting near the bottom of the Big East, and a team they had already defeated earlier in the year (sans Jeremy Hazell). The defense was atrocious (again), there was no urgency on offense, as well as a total lack of chemistry between teammates. Everything the team accomplished in the first couple months seems to be unraveling.
The defense is the most disconcerting issue of all. Early on, the Orange stamped themselves as an elite defensive team, holding teams to 36% shooting from the floor and about 60 points per game, both of which hovered near the top of the country. Last night, the Pirates absolutely torched the zone for 90 points, 55% shooting from the floor, and almost 60% from three-point land. Recently, the activity on the defensive side of the ball just hasn’t been there. Players aren’t swarming to the ball anymore, leading to more open shots for opponents, which they are knocking down.
Additionally, teams are beginning to majorly capitalize on Syracuse’s lack of size inside. Besides Rick Jackson, Syracuse really has no size down low to defend, rebound, or score, a weakness teams are exposing. Syracuse was out-rebounded once again, and the Pirates were constantly getting the ball to the middle of zone, finding an easy lay up, or passing to the open man behind the arc.
Finally, Syracuse just looked out of sync offensively. Ball movement was bad, shot selection was atrocious, and the crisp passing and teammate help has all but disappeared. A loss to Seton Hall is bad enough; a loss to the Hall by over 20 points at home is cause for major concern. The schedule will not get any easier, and two games ahead on the road against teams who are no slouch by any means are really going to test this young Orange team. These next games could prove to be critical to this season; whether the team can get back on track or whether they will continue this tail slide.
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Written by Curt Bell