Cuse Country

Home Away From Dome for Syracuse Orange Fans

No rest for the mediocre

Posted by Josh on February 5, 2007

Judging by the explosion of content on this forum in the past 40 hours, everyone is clearly really excited about the win over DePaul. Yeah. Woot. It was an important win, of course, to keep their NCAA hopes on life-support, but it was an “oughta-win”, a home game against a likely NIT team. The computers liked it, because DePaul beat Kansas a while back. So I’m not complaining. But the last 10 minutes were Louisville Redux. Good thing SU had got up by 20 instead of only 14.

I’m more concerned with tonight’s game at UConn and their underachieving young team. To wit:

  • Calhoun the Zone-Killer knows exactly how to attack Boeheim’s vaunted defense. He will drill his standard countermeasures into his players, and if they crack a few early, easy scores, watch their confidence bloom.

  • The propensity, which I am hereby dubbing the Levance Fields Effect, for hitherto unknown and unproven players to have career games against SU. UConn’s entire roster falls into the category of “unknown and unproven” so there are a ton of likely candidates. (Doug Wiggins, anybody?)

  • The game is on campus in Storrs, not the big arena in Hartford where the SU game usually is held. This may be the most hostile environment they play in all year.

  • UConn’s biggest strength this year is rebounding. They are #1 in the conference in rebounds per game, and also in rebounding margin. They get a high percentage (35%) of their boards on the offensive end. (Of course, a big part of this is a natural consequence of their poor shooting.) SU is actually 2nd in the league in rebounds per game, but that is just because us Orange fans have witnessed a lot of missed shots on both ends of the court this year: SU is also dead last in “rebounds allowed” to the opponents. There have been an average of 77.7 rebounds in SU games this year – the only BE team close to that number is (you guessed it) UConn at 77.1. (Louisville is next at 73.5; most teams are in the 60s.) So it won’t matter if UConn misses a ton of shots if SU can’t clear the defensive boards. And, if you can find an over/under bet on missed shots in this game, take the over! (Stats source: www.bigeast.org)

  • SU still struggles against teams they think are worse than them (a dead horse that bears flogging just a bit more) and all the recent stories about how UConn is “down” this year might contribute to that type of dangerous mindset.

UConn has not shot 3s well this year (32% as a team) and in fact have taken the fewest 3-pointers per game of any team in the Big East. So the key to keeping the zone effective (while simultaneously helping the rebounding) could very well be to pack the zone into the paint and encourage some heaving from afar. When UConn tries the standard “pass to the small forward at the foul line” play, the two top guards need to be collapsed enough to challenge that pass, and to bother the guy if he gets it so that Watkins does not have to come out from under the basket and leave someone free underneath for a “dump-down”. And if Watkins does step out, the forwards on the wings need to crash down behind him hard to deny the pass to the blocks and not worry as much about leaving someone open in the corner. Plus this forces UConn to make several clean passes in order to get a shot — and they average 15 turnovers per game, suggesting they aren’t so good at that. (For comparison, SU also averages 15 turnovers a game.)

And, in the name of all that is holy, box the fuck out!

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3 Responses to “No rest for the mediocre”

  1. Michael said

    “And, in the name of all that is holy, box the fuck out!”

    Word to your mother! Finally – a game on ESPN – and I’ll actually get to watch. Unless they pick up some local crap.

    Saoirse,
    MW

  2. OrangeRay said

    Unfortunately the team did not read your blog before the game tonight. Boxing out wasn’t something they bothered doing.

  3. Josh said

    Yeah, I hate it when I’m right.

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