Brandon Triche could only shake his head when asked if he’d ever seen anything like it.
“Never at SU,” he said. “I’ve seen it in high school, but at SU, we usually play the zone, back off.”
Triche was referring to one stretch in the first half of the Orange’s lopsided 92-47 victory over Colgate on Saturday when Syracuse stole four straight inbounds passes, scoring each time.
Those four steals came during a stretch of just over a minute where the Orange forced six consecutive Red Raiders turnovers. It began at the 8:51 mark when James Southerland picked off a kickout pass to the corner from Colgate’s Mike Venezia, who found himself swarmed with nowhere to go underneath the basket. Southerland finished the fast break the other way with an open jumper at the top of the key.
From there, the Orange deployed the full-court pressure that Colgate players will likely be seeing in their sleep for weeks.
“Everyone did a great job in the press,” Southerland said. “[We] stayed alert, stayed focused, stayed active, and we got the opportunities for loose balls.”
With the lanky 6-foot-8 forward hounding the inbounder, the Orange picked off Colgate’s next four passes, leading to an array of open shots and capped by an emphatic two-handed dunk from Southerland.
On their fifth try, the Red Raiders finally got the ball up the court, only to turn it over again. Freshman Rakeem Christmas got the steal, and CJ Fair finished things off at the other end with a 3-point play.
When the dust settled, the game clock read 7:38, and a shell-shocked Colgate team found themselves in a 21-point hole that would only get bigger as the game went on.
Southerland, effectively the Orange’s tenth man off the bench, was the key to the run, picking up three steals and scoring 11 points. Seven of those points came in one 17-second flurry.
“We’ve got another starting five on the bench that can come in and play with anybody in the country,” Scoop Jardine said. “When you’ve got guys like that coming of your bench, that’s something special.”
That depth, along with their length and athleticism, should allow Syracuse to play stifling all-out defense for 40 minutes a night.
On Saturday, Colgate was the latest to witness firsthand what the Orange are capable of defensively. And in just over a minute, any hope the Red Raiders might have had of knocking off the No. 5 team in the country wilted in the face of the Orange’s relentless, frenzied pressure.Corey Mallonee