Some thoughts after Syracuse put together a strong second half rally to defeat Indiana University of Pennsylvania in an exhibition game on Tuesday night, 86-68.
First thing of the top, there really shouldn’t be anything taken as an absolute from this (or any single) game, as it is a very small sample size. That said…
- The first half featured two teams with vastly different motivations. Syracuse was trying different things (man-to-man and zone defenses) and playing different combinations of personnel (12 different players saw action in the first half with nine playing at least six minutes). On the other hand, IUP used just eight players with six getting over 12 minutes of action and a seventh getting 8:33 while the eighth played under three minutes. One team was experimenting and had a coach using a quick hook as a way to deliver coaching points and other messages to players, the other was using it as a challenge to build for their season.
- As a result, the Orange offense seemed like it had no idea what they wanted to do in the first half. Jesse Edwards had more than three inches on every Crimson Hawk on their roster, save one who never played in the game, and was not a focal point of the offense in any way.
- The second half was vastly different when Jim Boeheim settled on a quintet that was playing well a couple minutes before the midpoint of the session. Quadir Copeland plus four starters (Jesse Edwards, Joe Girard III, Judah Mintz, and Benny Williams) was the combo that keyed SU’s dominating second half run.
- The run, which started less than a minute before Copeland subbed into the contest, saw the Orange outscore their guests 28-9 to seize a 79-63 lead. While Copeland was the third player to see time at the three, if you only watched this game and knew nothing else, you would expect him to get promoted to either the starting lineup or at least to a super-sub role played by C.J. Fair and James Southerland, among other Orange players of the past.
- Three different freshmen played at the three. Chris Bell started the game, backed up by Justin Taylor. Copeland eventually slid to the three for a little over two minutes after playing the two after he entered in the first half. Bell struggled with his shot (1-of-9, including 1-of-6 from three) while Taylor played more passively on offense, possibly looking to fit in more than anything else. While he hardly made a dent on the scoresheet during the burst (one made jumper and one assist), Copeland’s point guard ability and mindset gave the Orange offense a new dimension during their big second half run.
- After struggling on offense throughout the first half and into the second, SU finished the game on a blistering hot streak. In the final 14 minutes of action, SU hit a dozen straight shots at one point and finished the game on a 16-of-20 shooting streak. That finishing kick lifted Syracuse’s overall shooting mark to 51.7 percent overall and 39.1 percent from three.
- When Boeheim tightened his rotation in the second half, turnovers went away. The Orange had ten miscues in the first half, but just three after halftime, including one in the final minute.
- While the team did play a decent amount of man-to-man defense in the game, it is very difficult to imagine such a lean frontcourt playing and surviving through 20 ACC games. Peter Carey was the first big man off the bench, a drop-off of 30 pounds from Edwards. Edwards and reserve center Mounir Hima are the only players on the roster listed at more than 216 pounds.