Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim gave a frank assessment of his team after the Orange’s 84-48 win over Eastern Michigan on Monday night.
“This team has a lot to learn. We have a lot of work to do to be good,” Boeheim said. “We want to be good. Last years team was good at this time and we aren’t there yet now. We don’t have as many veterans and this team is a work in progress and we can get there but we are a long way from that.”
Interestingly enough, these two teams met last year with the same result as the Orange blew out the Eagles 84-48.
But there were plenty of flaws in SU’s win tonight.
For starters, Syracuse didn’t take care of the ball. SU turned the ball over 18 times, with six of them coming from its starting point guard, Michael Carter-Williams. Four more came from its other starting guard, Brandon Triche.
“I made some bad passes,” Carter-Williams said. “I made some bad decisions, but that’s going to happen.”
SU started the game 2-11 from the field, and actually trailed 10-3 with 14:59 before a 13-2 spurt gave SU control of the game.
“We got off to a slow start – it’s not unusual,” Boeheim said. “When you play an emotional game on the weekend it’s going to be a little bit tougher when you come back and have to get back going.”
Boeheim also credited EMU’s defense—which employs the 2-3 zone—as another reason for the early struggles.
Syracuse also struggled from downtown, as they have all season. Syracuse came in shooting just 31.1 percent from beyond the arc, and went 5 for 22 against the Eagles.
James Southerland, the hero from SU’s 91-82 win against Arkansas, missed all 5 of his 3-point attempts and had just four points.
“I think he used up all his shots in Arkansas,” Boeheim said.” “They did a good job finding him and doubling him which should have opened up more opportunities for us than we took advantage of, but he rushed a little bit.”
To be sure, there was plenty of good to take away from the win as well. Trevor Cooney, mired in a slump, hit a pair of 3s from downtown and finished with 11 points. Fellow freshman Jerami Grant also had a career day, chipping in 11 points.
SU employed a suffocating full court press, that led to the Eagles committing 23 turnovers.
“Playing really good teams in November will help your team for the next couple of weeks but it won’t help in March. It’ll help right away,” Boeheim said. “This game helps us because we can point out the mistakes and turnovers that will cost us in a big game.”
Those things will have to improve as Syracuse nears the start of Big East play.
“To just assume we’re going to win games is the most arrogant thing I have ever seen in my life,” Boeheim said. “I don’t like arrogance and I don’t like arrogant people. To just think it’s going to happen, it doesn’t work that way.”