If Syracuse is to get back to its winning ways, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim will need more production from his guards.
The Orange (18-2, 5-2 Big East) host Seton Hall (8-12, 2-6) fresh off two losses against the Big East elite. Syracuse lost to No. 4 Pittsburgh last Monday, 74-66, and then again on Saturday, 83-72 against No. 7 Villanova.
“We lost to two of the best teams in the Big East,” guard Brandon Triche said. “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.”
One of the main things Syracuse needs to figure out — and quickly — is its guard play. Although Triche had a solid outing with 14 points against Villanova, guards Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine struggled.
The two 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.”
Jardine scored just two points on 1-for-8 shooting and 0-for-3 from downtown. He was benched most of the second half, and played just 22 minutes.
It was Jardine’s third straight poor performance. In his last three games, Jardine is shooting just 8-for-30 from the field.
As for Waiters, he went 2-for-12 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point land.
“I couldn’t hit any shots,” Waiters said. “I got a lot of good looks. It felt good. But, I felt like I was getting hit every time I shot the ball.”
It wasn’t just missing shots, it was also the kind of shots that the guards were taking. Syracuse simply didn’t work the ball inside to forward Rick Jackson.
Although Jackson scored 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting, he still expressed frustration afterward.
“I’m frustrated with our shot selection,” Jackson said. “All day, we could have had way better shots than what we had. I think we kind of settled for jumpers and that is what they wanted us to do.”
The guards didn’t just struggle on offense.
Villanova feasted on poor defensive rotations at the top of the zone, which freed up the Wildcat shooters. For the game, Villanova shot 11-for-24 from downtown.
“Our game plan was to stop the guards from penetrating into the middle,” forward Kris Joseph said. “We failed to accomplish that.”
The guards will need to shore up its defense against Seton Hall now that guard Jeremy Hazell (19.1 points per game) is back. He was not available the last time these two teams met on Jan. 8 in a 61-56 Syracuse win.
Hazell’s presence may be a factor if the guards struggle again.
“We’re not going to win if those guys go 3-for-20,” Boeheim said. “We can get better and we’ll find out Tuesday night.”
Wesley Cheng is the Editor in Chief for The Juice Online.