Don’t tell Allen Iverson, but we are going to talk about practice.
After beating Pittsburgh in an ugly fashion, head coach Jim Boeheim acknowledged that his team needed more time to develop.
“We need practice days right now,” he said following the win over the Panthers.
Boeheim got exactly what he was looking for over the past week as Syracuse had an eight-day break following its matchup with Pitt. The younger players on the team certainly felt the effects.
“Those eight days off were key for us,” said freshman guard Howard Washington. “It let us get our legs back. It let us get our confidence back. We got three hard days of practice in.”
Much of that showed on the court in an 81-63 thrashing of Boston College. Syracuse had five players score in double digits for the first time since it played Texas Southern in November.
Despite the strong result, Boeheim is wary to contribute all of the success to more practice time.
“You never know. We did have time to work on our shooting,” Boeheim said. “This was probably the best offensive game we’ve played all year by all measures, but you never know with a long stretch.”
For some, it is useful to get acclimated with league play. Freshman forward Marek Dolezaj put up a career-high in points against the Eagles.
“I felt more comfortable today,” he said. “This is the first time playing ACC for most of us.”
For others, the time was spent getting back into the school mindset.
“The semester just started,” said freshman forward Oshae Brissett. “It was time to get back into school mode.”
Brissett pointed to the time off as a way to shake off some of the issues the team faced during a tough four-game losing streak.
“It helped me get my body back to where it needs to be,” he said. “I was able to get mentally and physically right.”
While the team’s shooting benefited from the additional practice time, there were some obvious flaws still in the Orange’s game that can be clearly attributed to the preparation process.
“We worked hard to limit the three and we gave them four straight to start the game,”Boeheim said. “That’s just bad basketball.”
That message was not lost on the team. Boeheim called an early timeout after the BC run to open the contest.
“He just told us to focus on what we worked on in practice,”Brissett said.
The Eagles shot 7-23 from behind the arc the rest of the game. Syracuse has the ability to implement in-game changes, but sophomore guard Tyus Battle knows it should not come to that.
“We have to worry more about the scouting report,” he said.