The last five games have not featured strong shooting from the players Syracuse needs
As the Syracuse Orange head into the ACC Tournament a lot of focus has been on the Orange losing four halftime leads in their last five games. Jim Boeheim doesn’t think that’s relevant but we look at something that should be relevant to everyone around the Syracuse program.
Those are the shooting numbers for the last five games for the Orange’s top five scorers. What makes the numbers even more incredible is that included in this stretch are games where each player outside of Frank Howard shot better than their season averages. Against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Tyus Battle shot 9 for 13, Elijah Hughes was 8 for 12 and Buddy Boeheim was 3 for 6. In Saturday’s game at the Clemson Tigers, Oshae Brissett was 4 of 7 and made both his three-point attempts.
It should be concerning that the most important offensive players are struggling at this time of the season. While Syracuse can hope that Marek Dolezaj and Pascal Chukwu can contribute some points here and there the post-season hopes rest on the five players taking the majority of the shots. If the Orange can’t get these guys making some shots it’s going to be tough to spring the kind of upset that fans have recently become accustomed to seeing.
Now if there’s some good news for Syracuse it’s that the four losses came against teams that are ranked in the top 11 in KenPom’s Defensive Efficiency Rating. We think of the Virginia Cavaliers as being an elite defensive group but Duke, UNC and Clemson have all been strong in that area this season. The Orange won’t face an elite defensive team on Wednesday night in Charlotte so maybe they can get back on track offensively.
I know everyone will point to last season’s Sweet Sixteen run as an example that defense can carry the Orange but the team is hovering in a spot where a second round game against another top 15 defense could loom. Defense or not Syracuse is going to need to get a couple of players making shots to help launch Apology Tour 3.