I was there on Monday night. I wish I wasn’t.
My time would have been better spent on my couch, or in a bar with access to plenty of libations to drown my sorrows, watching the Orange get embarrassed 52-50 by old Big East rival UCONN at Madison Square Garden in New York.
This wasn’t a loss to the old, perennial contender for a national championship UCONN. This was a loss to a 3-4 team predicted to finish 15-15, good for 6th in the AAC.
Yes it ended up being a close, exciting game. But it was brutal to watch for both fan bases, obviously more so for the Orange faithful in the world’s most famous arena.
What went wrong? As our editor, Wes Cheng pointed out in his Instant Juice on Monday: basically everything.
I don’t need statistics to tell you Syracuse shot the ball horrendously. All you needed was your sense of hearing, as the ball constantly clanged off the rim, to know the Orange were having an off-night, to put it mildly. The fact they shot 25% is better than I would have guessed- that’s how bad it felt.
It’s no secret that I have a love/hate relationship with coach Jim Boeheim. He’s a wonderful recruiter, an excellent teacher of the 2-3 zone, and one of the more insightful coaches around. Plus, he’s darn funny.
But where he fails short is in his ability to get offensive production out of lackluster offensive teams. He needs that stud who can carry an offense when it gets stagnant, or when it needs a bucket desperately. Or he needs a team that plays the game effortlessly and moves the ball to the open man. This team has neither.
Tyler Lydon needs to be more aggressive and look for his shot. My entire section at MSG on Monday was screaming at him to shoot the ball.
Tyler Roberson has to remember how to play basketball. His regression has been unparalleled. He played 13 minutes on Monday, and even that may have been too much.
Andrew White has been trying to be “the stud” but even he wasn’t impervious to the wretched shooting.
Even though I’m clearly negative about Monday, I am trying not to get too down on this team. I liked this squad a lot before the season started, and the early season squashes proved they could be a force. But losing 3 out of 4, before even beginning ACC play is not a good omen for things to come.
To make matters worse, the shooting woes aren’t an anomaly. In the other two losses, this season, the Cuse shot under below 40 percent in each outing. It’s common for one or two guys to get cold, but this year so far, shooting poorly has been a team-wide epidemic in 3 out of the 8 games.
I suppose the flipside of this debacle is that the Orange held the Huskies to just 52 points on 31.4 percent shooting. Still, these are the games the Orange is supposed to win, especially against what was assumed to be an inferior opponent.
Defense won’t carry the Orange in ACC play. The offense is going to have to show up, and so far, it has stayed home on the couch, right where I should stayed on Monday night.