It was reality check time for the Orange basketball team this week.
After starting the week 18-0, the No. 3 Orange has dropped its last two games against No. 4 Pittsburgh and No. 7 Villanova.
That leads to the fairly logical conclusion that the Orange, while very good, is not among the elite.
“I guess that is what this week shows,” guard Brandon Triche said. “Pittsburgh is top-five, same with Villanova. We lost to two of the best teams in the Big East. We’re capable of beating these teams. We just have to figure out as a team how we can get better, and we will be fine.”
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim agrees.
“We played two teams this week who I think are legitimate top five or six teams in the country,” he said. “We are not good enough.”
Pittsburgh and Villanova each exploited a specific weakness in Syracuse’s defense.
In a 74-66 win over the Orange, the Panthers went inside and took advantage of centers Fab Melo and Baye Moussa Keita, going up 19 points before Boeheim went with Rick Jackson at center to stop the bleeding.
“Our centers got off to a horrendous start,” Boeheim said. “The guys are young. They’ve got a lot to learn. They were not ready tonight. They got us in a big hole right away, and we had to go small.”
As for the Orange’s 83-72 loss to the Wildcats, Villanova feasted from the perimeter, taking advantage of Syracuse’s guards. The Wildcats shot 45 percent from downtown, while their counterparts, Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters, combined for 3-for-20 shooting from the field to go along with five turnovers.
“I thought our point guard play was not good today,” Boeheim said. “We can’t win with that kind of play. We have to get better leadership at that position, and we didn’t get it today. The point guards were trying to score more than they were trying to get the team into sets. It’s disappointing.”
The Orange’s schedule eases up this week with games against Seton Hall and Marquette. It will be a chance for Syracuse to get back on track.
“Last year we slipped up a few times in March, this time it is in January,” Triche said. “If we get this slide early, it gives us time to develop as a team. We need to go back to our fundamentals and become a better team.”
As for other thoughts from around the Web:
This is now the sixth game in a row that Scoop has been an absolute abomination on the court. He simply is not looking for teammates and is jacking shots with 28 seconds left on the shot clock.
We know that the greatest enemy of the 2-3 zone, or any defense, is the unstoppable 3-pointer shooter who can’t seem to miss even if he tried. And such a shooter emerged in the first half today. His name was Maalik Wayns.
After starting the season with 18 straight wins, the Syracuse Orange lost its second straight game on Saturday. Syracuse, which lost to No. 5 Pittsburgh earlier in the week, suffered a 83-72 defeat to the 7th-ranked Villanova Wildcats on Saturday. And the two losses couldn’t have looked different.
Scoop, buddy, pal. What’s going on? Three straight lackluster performances and this was the most lackluster-est of them all.
That’s all for this week, folks. See you at the same time, same place next week.
Editor in Chief