Syracuse basketball 2018-2019: A statistical retrospective

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Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim speaks during a press conference. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

The Syracuse 2018-2019 men’s basketball season was a disappointing one. There were more lows than highs, and the loss of at least three starters raises even more questions for next season.

But before we move on, let’s take a look back at the statistics that defined the year in Syracuse basketball:

114.1 points per possession – The loss to Baylor was Syracuse’s worst defensive performance of the season, according to both KenPom’s and Barttorvik’s adjusted defensive efficiency metrics.

The Orange gave up 114.1 points per 100 possessions, adjusted for the strength of Baylor. That was 7 points per 100 possessions worse than the performance in which the team gave up 18 3s to Virginia.

Ironically, after Syracuse relied on a top-30 defense to make up for its inconsistent offense all season, the final loss came during Syracuse’s 8th best offensive performance of the year.

4 top-100 players – If Syracuse appears to be in a lull in recruiting, it’s not just your imagination. The last two seasons Syracuse has only had four top-100 players, according to the consensus RSCI ranking. That’s the fewest since the 2001-2002 squad only had three such players.

Of course, this isn’t entirely fair. Oshae Brissett might well have been in the top 100 if he had played high school basketball in the US, but several scouting services do not rank Canadian players.

Nonetheless, Syracuse has suffered a talent drought in recent years.

32.1 percent – Tyus Battle came back to Syracuse for his junior season to complete his degree and refine his skills for the NBA. A key area of focus was his 3-point shot.

But in three seasons at SU, Battle’s 3-point shooting percentage declined every year he played. As a freshman, he shot 36.6 percent. This dropped to 32.2 percent last year before landing at 32.1 percent in his final year.

» Related: An early look at the 2019-20 Syracuse basketball team

Battle did improve his true shooting percentage, which accounts for 3s, 2s and free throws, from last season, but he never managed to exceed the level he achieved as a freshman. For a Preseason All American, this was beyond disappointing.

111 3-pointers – Just like Battle, Brissett entered this season hoping to showcase an improved 3-point shot to NBA scouts. After shooting 27 percent on 111 attempts, Brissett did not leave the impression he hoped.

To put that number in perspective, Marek Dolezaj had just 19 fewer 3-point makes on 82 fewer attempts. Dolezaj would have had to miss his next 41 3-pointers to shoot as poor a percentage as Brissett did.

9 percent of shots – Speaking of Dolezaj, he was consistently Syracuse’s most efficient shooter. His true shooting percentage of 61.9 percent was 5.5 percent better than Elijah Hughes’ and nearly 8 percent better than Battle’s.

Bizarrely, however, Dolezaj only took 9 percent of Syracuse’s shots when he was on the floor. The inability to fully utilize Dolezaj on offense was, without question, the Syracuse coaching staff’s biggest missed opportunity of the season.

The team almost never ran sets for Dolezaj, and when he was in the game he was often used as a screener and then drifted to the weak side of the court. Had just some of Brissett’s 11 shots per game or Frank Howard’s 8.3 shots per game gone to Dolezaj, the team’s offense would have been much improved.

Quick hits:

34.1 percent – That’s Jalen Carey’s turnover rate. It’s nearly triple Buddy Boeheim’s and by far the worst on the team. He’ll need to improve that if he’s SU’s primary ball handler next season.

32.9 percent – That’s SU’s defensive 3-point percentage, which ranked 86th in the country. For all the grief Syracuse gets about giving up 3s in the zone, opponents have only averaged 33 percent against the Orange four times in the last 19 seasons.

40.7 percent – That’s Buddy Boeheim’s 3-point percentage in conference play. If he keeps that up for a full season, he will create a lot of space for Carey, Brycen Goodine, and SU’s other guards to drive to the basket.

12.2 percent – That’s the percentage of opponent’s shots that Paschal Chukwu blocked while he was in the game – 10th best in the country. For perspective, SU’s other centers averaged 6.8 percent (Bourama Sidibe) and 3.1 percent (Dolezaj). For all of his struggles, SU may miss the 7-2 big man’s presence in the middle next year.

Looking ahead:

7 points per game – That’s Jimmer Fredette’s freshman scoring average at BYU. Incoming SU recruit Joe Girard III has drawn comparisons to Fredette because they share the same hometown (Glens Falls, NY) and were both prolific high school scorers. Fredette finished 16th all time in New York boy’s basketball history, and this past season Girard broke the all-time record. Fredette’s 7 points per game is a reminder to not give up on Girard if his numbers are modest next season. By his senior season, Fredette averaged 28.9 points per game.

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Jeff Irvine
About Jeff Irvine 97 Articles
Jeff has covered Massachusetts Minutemen basketball for The Maroon and White and The Daily Hampshire Gazette. He has also written for The Daily Orange. Jeff is an Amherst, Massachusetts native, and graduated from Syracuse University in 2006. Follow him on Twitter @jeffreyirvine.