Syracuse basketball’s big men are at heart of offensive woes

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Syracuse forward Marek Dolezaj secures a rebound during a 51-49 loss to Notre Dame. MANDATORY PHOTO CREDIT: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

At the heart of Syracuse’s offensive woes in a 51-49 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday was a lack of production from its big men.

Matthew Moyer went scoreless and Marek Dolezaj had only two points off four attempts. SU centers Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe combined for just six points on three shot attempts.

“We’re just having trouble scoring. It’s been a struggle and it’s probably going to continue to be a struggle,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “If you can’t score 50 points at home, you’ve got a problem.”

Part of the problem was poor offensive ball movement.

“We have to move the ball a lot more,” Oshae Brissett said. “We stand around a lot, which lets them stay in the spots they want to be in. We have to move them off their spots and attack the basket.”

Brissett, who has emerged as a top offensive option, was held to 10 points on 3-15 shooting. In recent games, Brissett has made up for his poor shooting from the field by attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line.

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But Notre Dame planned around that.

“They weren’t fouling him today,” Boeheim said. “Ironically, today he made his 3s but he missed everything going to the basket. They were all good shots. He’s learning how to play, and it’s not that easy. Freshman year, that’s a lot to put on a guy.”

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey keyed into his team early on that Brissett had the potential to be a problem for them.

“We learned to play off him and not let him drive and make him shoot jump shots,” Brey said. “We made him a jump shooter. We figured if he drives us, we’re in trouble.”

Their plan worked.

Notre Dame also limited Syracuse on the glass. The Orange is currently 35th in the country at 40.1 rebounds per game, but the Fighting Irish pounded Syracuse 42-27.

Half of those 42 rebounds were on the offensive end, leading to easy putbacks or kick-out shots. Syracuse only had eight of its own.

“We’re not a good rebounding team,” Boeheim said. “That was a myth. A complete myth.”

Syracuse will need to adjust, perhaps sending its guards to the basket to help.

“We have to send everyone to the glass,” Tyus Battle said. “Teams are a lot bigger and stronger now, and everyone has to come back in. When we do, we’re really successful.”

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Jennifer Castro
About Jennifer Castro 14 Articles
Jenn is currently covering Syracuse basketball, lacrosse, and football. Jenn has interned for NBC Sports Boston, the official network of the Boston Celtics and is a senior at Syracuse studying advertising and marketing management. A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Jenn is an avid sports fan and looks to continue her dream of sports reporting and sports writing. Follow her on Twitter @jennnnncastro.