Syracuse 56, Michigan 61 — What we learned

ATLANTA — Syracuse was knocked out of the NCAA tournament on Saturday night with a 61-56 loss to the Michigan Wolverines. Here are a few thoughts from the game:

WHAT HAPPENED ON THAT FINAL PLAY?

With 17 seconds left, Syracuse trailed 59-56 and took a timeout to run one final play to tie. Problem was, Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche had fouled out, leaving Trevor Cooney as the only available option to bring up the ball. Cooney ended up driving and missing a short right handed shot with 9 seconds left, and Michigan closed the game on a dunk. But the original play was to try to run a play that sprung James Southerland  for his only 3 of the game earlier. “They switched on it,” Boeheim said. “Trevor had no choice. That was it. He had no choice. He did the best he could in that situation.” Still, it seems like the best play would’ve been Cooney shooting the 3. Triche agreed: “Once it got to 8 seconds, he probably should’ve put up a 3 and given us multiple opportunities to tie up the game.”

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MCW is likely headed to the NBA

» Related: Syracuse knocked out by Michigan

ON THE TWO CHARGE CALLS

There were a couple of controversial calls that went against Syracuse. The first came with 1:40 left and Trey Burke appeared to push off Michael Carter-Williams with his right elbow, but Carter-Williams was whistled for a block. “I thought (MCW) had pretty good position,” Triche said. “Burke, he stuck his arm out, and followed through. I thought it was a charge.” With 17 seconds left and Syracuse down 2, Triche drove and was met in the lane by Jordan Morgan, who drew a charge, though Morgan appeared to be moving his feet at the point of contact. “I was just trying to make a play for the team,” Triche said. “I probably should’ve made a better decision. I probably should’ve pulled up for a jumpshot.”

» Related: Boeheim is returning to SU in 2013-14

THERE’S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR

We know for sure that seniors  James Southerland and Triche are done. Carter-Williams is almost certainly headed to the NBA draft, as well. But, while Syracuse loses these three players, they will get six new players. Incoming freshmen Tyler Ennis will likely take over at point guard for Carter-Williams, and Michael Gbinije will take Triche’s spot. Southerland’s starting spot will be filled by Jerami Grant, and returning forwards Rakeem Christmas and CJ Fair will fill out the other two spots. SU will have a deep bench, including returning players Trevor Cooney, Baye Moussa Keita and DaJuan Coleman. The other freshmen include center Chinonso Obokoh, wing Tyler Roberson, and guards BJ Johnson and Ron Patterson. These days, the motto in Syracuse is to reload and not rebuild. Next year is no exception.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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