Cuse Country

Home Away From Dome for Syracuse Orange Fans

We should have won…and we should have lost by 20

Posted by syracusan on December 2, 2006

This wasn’t a bad game to lose, in my opinion. We’re not going to take a lot of shit from the national media for this one, and it’s not going to destroy the players’ confidence. It’s reasonable to lose to Wichita State these days, and this is a good time of year for the team to learn some valuable lessons. For instance, if you spend half the game jerking off, then you’re probably going to lose. They’d been blowing off 20 minutes a game all year, but with shit opponents they could survive it. Now they know the only way they’re going to beat good teams is to play like they did in the last ten minutes of this game…for the entire game.

Then again, it becomes a bad game to lose when you get so close and then blow it. Then you have to deal with heartbreak and anger and frustration, which is a bitch for the fans.

I’d feel a lot better someone could tell me that Wichita State was one of the premier defensive teams in America. Then I could forgive the pathetic display out there, and the fact we could only drop 61 points at home. But who knows? The Shockers shut down LSU the same way, so maybe they are a dominant defensive team. If so, then the guys learned a lot today. If not, then all the worries I had coming out of the Canisius game on offense still stand.

I’d also feel a lot better if the Shockers looked better in general. We tore them up on the boards, which is not generally an SU strength. They also couldn’t score all day on the inside against Mookie, Terrence and Nichols. The agonizing and obvious explanation for the loss was that it took 30 minutes for our guys to figure out the Shockers could only score from the perimeter. Once we expanded the zone and/or man defense, Wichita State essentially stopped making baskets. They couldn’t get a layup or a dunk, and they couldn’t get to the line. Every time they came inside there was a mammoth block or a shot altered or a turnover. Great interior defense all day by the big guys. The same guys also hit the boards with abandon and cleaned the trash on the offensive end all night. Too bad about what they did when they got the ball and tried to make a move with it…

The point is, I wasn’t impressed by Wichita State, even though their resume is getting scary. If they had rolled us by 20, which is what almost happened, it would have been understandable: then I’d say they’re simply a new version of Gonzaga, and they’re going to kill a lot of people this year. But that’s not the case. They’re nowhere near what the Zags were last year, and they’re going to have a hard time beating big teams that know how to guard the three point line.

I suppose I could take the optimists view and suggest that Wichita State really is as good as their resume says and the fact we tore them up in the 2nd half is a good sign for how good we’ll be. But I didn’t see enough positive developments to take that approach.

Still, my prediction is this loss flips on a lightbulb in some heads, and next week I get to see a solid win over Oklahoma State at the garden thanks to it.

*****

Paul Harris was invisible in the first half and then looked like a 1st team all-american in the 2nd. Please tell me he’s not picking up bad effort habits already. My guess is that he’s still going through some growing pains about how to play his game against high level competition. This is the first game he’s had to face a team with a wealth of legit players. He got swatted badly on one play, had an ugly turnover or two, and had some rebounds snatched away from him that he had been getting in early games. He’s going to have to realize he’s only 6’5″ as he starts to play against more athletic bigs. Getting those kinds of boards against good teams in the lane requires perfect box out technique and perfect jump-timing for a guy his size. He can’t watch Mookie and Terrence, who’ve spent four years refusing to box anyone out and relying solely on height and jumping ability to snag boards.

One bit of good news: Josh Wright is starting to take a little ownership out on the court, which I like to see. He’s been playing consistent, if unspectacular, ball for a while now and has been a stabilizing presence. I could feel a little more leadership from him on the court tonight.

That said, we have a growing emergency with the Devendorf situation. This guy was a major offensive player last year as a freshman in a supporting role, and a lot of us predicted he’d lead the team in scoring this year. But instead he hasn’t scored more than 6 baskets in any game this year, including terrible performances in the last two, and he’s getting more and more uncomfortable on the court. He looked completely lost today, like he’s becoming less sure of his responsibilities. I thought he would thrive without Gerry around taking all the shots, but Devo might be a guy who needs to know who the superstar is so that he can figure out when he’s supposed to shoot. If he’s the star, so be it; if not, that’s cool too. Boeheim needs to decide if the offense is going to flow through him, or if he’s expected to only create offense when everything else has failed. Because right now he looks like he’s not sure what he wants to do when he gets the ball, and it’s leading to turnovers and terrible shot selection. He’s way to good an offensive player for this, so they might want to let him loose. But right now he has zero chemistry with the other guys on the floor, so one way or the other they’re going to have to figure out how to get him back in the flow. This team is going nowhere without Devo averaging something in the 15 ppg range.

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One Response to “We should have won…and we should have lost by 20”

  1. Josh said

    Spot-on analysis of the devendorf situation. I’m not too concerned with the loss in the big picture, but keep in mind that as soon as WSU loses one game they were ‘supposed to win’ to a lesser conference opponent, they will drop precipitously in the rankings — too many such losses and this might start to look like a “bad loss” in the NCAA resume (especially because it’s a home loss). So, everyone better start rooting for WSU the rest of the way!

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