Russ DeRemer, Nolan Hart and Nick Resavy. Those are the only three players on the Orange who didn’t score last night. 13 players in all scored as the Orange played one of their most complete games of the season trouncing Morgan State, 97-55.
There are two things the Orange defense did extremely well last night: securing rebounds and blocking shots. They allowed a few layups off missed assignments but also sent back 11 shots including four swats from Fab Melo. Morgan State is an average sized team but Syracuse made them look much smaller than that. Often a problem with the 2-3 zone is giving up offensive rebounds since players need to find men to box out. SU did that last night, limiting Morgan State to 7 offensive rebounds and more importantly, just four second chance points.
When Syracuse secured those rebounds they looked to push as quick as possible. This is Syracuse’s greatest strength and they took full advantage of it last night. No matter who grabs the board – whether it’s Brandon Triche or Baye Moussa Keita – they’re instantly looking down court to get the ball moving in the hopes of getting an easy layup in transition. Last night they had 22 points off of the Bears 17 turnovers.
They had the same philosophy of pushing the pace last year but it often resulted in careless turnovers (I’m looking your way Rautins). But this team has limited those mistakes. The Orange had just 9 turnovers last night despite the ultra-quick pace.
At times, they have struggled with half court offense this season but last night they were extremely patient and had great ball movement. They had 34 assists on 39 made field goals because they worked the ball around and rarely forced up shots. Of their 73 shots, under 10 of them were ill-advised.
It also makes it easier when they hit their shots. They made 12 of 25 three-pointers and most were created with an extra pass.
A big part of their tremendous shooting night was James Southerland. Southerland eclipsed his previous high of 10 points by pouring in 18 on 7 of 10 shooting including 4 of 6 from distance. Earlier in the season I thought Southerland should be given more playing time. But then he proceeded to have a few horrific shooting nights and he was back on the bench. We’ve constantly heard about what a great shooter he is in practice. He’s probably the most athletic guy on the team and at 6’8 and a three-point threat, it would seem like he’s practically unguardable. It didn’t make sense why he couldn’t perform in games. Now that CJ Fair is out though, he’s getting his chance and making the most of it.
Syracuse will play their last non-conference game on Wednesday against the Drexel Dragons. Drexel is 8-1 and handed Louisville its first loss at Freedom Hall a week ago.
-Sometimes Rick Jackson gets lost in these recaps. He was again (as usual), the most important player for the Orange. He just missed another double-double with 18 points and 9 rebounds. He’s been great all year. It’s simply expected.
-When Mookie Jones got his first touch of the night behind the three-point line, fans got excited and when he didn’t pull the trigger they groaned. I’m pretty sure this was a joke to the crowd. They know Mookie and know that when he touches the ball he wants to jack up that three-pointer. I’m afraid though, that Mookie doesn’t get this joke and is going to oblige the fans from now on. That scares me. Fun addition to the Alcoholic’s Anonymous Syracuse drinking game – take a shot every time Mookie steps within the three-point line on offense. That’ll keep you sober.
-After the game Fab Melo said “I told [Scoop], when he cuts and my center goes to guard him? He should just throw the ball up. And I will dunk it.” Telling Scoop Jardine to throw an alley-oop pass is kind of redundant, don’t you think?
Robbie Gillies is a senior columnist for The Juice Online. He is also an editor for Real Clear Sports. See more at http://www.realclearsports.com/