Orange Watch: Still hard to figure how Syracuse basketball will fare come ACC play

Just two more tune-ups await the Orange beginning tonight, before a stacked ACC awaits
Just two more tune-ups await the Orange beginning tonight, before a stacked ACC awaits

Item: Heading into this past Monday night’s eventual 48 point rout of Eastern Michigan at the Dome, the Syracuse basketball record over the early portion of the schedule stood at 6-4 for only the third time in Jim Boeheim’s 41 seasons. That’s pretty remarkable unto itself, but also significant to the fact that this team with five newcomers, four of whom will be counted on significantly moving forward, is still finding its way to produce chemistry at both ends of the floor, and the seven wins against lower rated teams says a lot less than the four defeats that came against better competition.

In this “Big East Homecoming” segment of the overall pre-conference portion of the schedule that has featured games against Connecticut, Georgetown and next versus St. John’s (5-7) this evening in the Dome (7:00 p.m. ET / ACC RSNs), the only common denominator has been it’s hard to figure out exactly what type of overall game the Orange will unfurl as a team, and following each of the four defeats the theme has been one of exigency to correct the mistakes with the looming start of ACC play now just 11 days away.

» Related: Syracuse finds offensive balance, breaks free fall against Eastern Michigan

“Today how we played (in blowing out Eastern Michigan) is how we have to play every game,” Tyus Battle said after his first game-high scoring honors in college with 18 points in 23 minutes Monday night against EMU. “Get everyone involved. We know everyone can score with the ball on this team, so when we get them in the right spots and good shots, they’ll knock them down.”

Yes, that may be the case against mid-major programs with most opponents featuring players just a little smaller and perhaps a step slower than the ACC Orange, but it wasn’t the outcome in basically catch-up-from-behind games in defeats to South Carolina, Wisconsin and Georgetown, along with the second half dearth of scoring that allowed Connecticut to storm back at Madison Square Garden.

“We’re following a new path now, kind of switch everything around, almost like the first day of practice,” Frank Howard said after his 11 assist performance in the bounce back win Monday, in describing the overall attitude handed down by Boeheim after the bitter Georgetown defeat last weekend. “When I can (distribute) it really makes it a lot easier for the whole team. We’re really focused right now and playing with a lot of urgency.”

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.