‘We can still win this way’: Syracuse’s 74-62 win over Oakland provides blueprint for success

first_imgIt was inefficient, ugly and probably a little close for comfort down the stretch. But Syracuse’s 74-62 win over Oakland on Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome might be a blueprint for the Orange going forward. At least that’s what Jim Boeheim said after watching his team lurch to a 12-point win over a Horizon League opponent at home in December. “We’ve got to find a way to keep our turnovers down, hit more 3s,” Boeheim said. “They made a lot more 2s, but we made seven more 3s.”Syracuse (6-5, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) churned out a win over Oakland (5-6) despite getting outscored in the paint, out-rebounded and outshot from the field. In spite of all this, SU found wiggle room on the stat sheet, relying on its perimeter players to pace an offense primarily via the 3. SU’s 34 3-point attempts were a season-high. This air-raid strategy, Boeheim said, is entirely driven by a lack of size at the forward position. Going back-and-forth with reporters during a brief press conference, Boeheim flatly stated, and repeated, that Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj aren’t heavy enough to properly defend down low. “Well, put 40 pounds on Bourama or on Jesse (Edwards),” Boeheim said. “That’d be the only way. We are covering it better, but it’s not good enough. But when a team takes that much effort to get it in there; if we had had a better offensive game, it wouldn’t have been a problem.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThus, the Grizzlies piled up 2s as they liked, feeding their frontcourt duo of Brad Brechting and Xavier Hill-Mais to the tune of 36 points. All the while, SU hunted 3s on the other end. It started poorly, as Syracuse opened the game with four-straight missed 3s. Before Joe Girard III converted a four-point play more than three and a half minutes into the game, SU only trailed 2-1 thanks mostly to the Golden Grizzlies still feeling out the 2-3 zone. On the next trip to the offensive end, Elijah Hughes buried his first 3. In the course of two possessions, SU jumped to an 8-2 lead. And Buddy Boeheim, even after starting 0-for-5 against Georgetown and 0-for-4 against Oakland, shot his way into a one-man 11-6 run, including two made 3s. “Kind of got the offense going a little,” Buddy Boeheim said. “Always good to go on a run like that.”Because Oakland opts for 2s over 3s, SU didn’t need to be more or even as efficient in its 3-point shooting to win. The Orange generated 33 points from 3s (not counting any free throws drawn) while scoring a combined 41 points otherwise. Syracuse’s 11-34 performance from deep bested Oakland’s 4-for-18 in both quality and quantity.It didn’t matter that Oakland scored two more 2s and made five more free throws because the 3-point gulf (21 points), was too large.Syracuse’s current obvious strength is its trio of shooters in the starting lineup and most nights, Hughes, Boeheim and Girard won’t collectively shoot 35.5-percent from deep. But even if they do, just by making 10 or more 3s total, they can boost the entire offense. “Eleven in a game like this?” Boeheim said, “That’s got to be the least number of 3s we can make. We’ve got to make more.” Jordan Phelps | Staff PhotographerBetter efficiency will be required across the board for the barrage of 3s to be a viable strategy in the ACC, not to mention the possibility of SU simply getting outshot from deep. Jim Boeheim mentioned needing more free throws for Buddy Boeheim and Hughes — Boeheim made his three charity shots; Hughes didn’t attempt a free throw — tacitly acknowledging the efficiency behind free throws.Perhaps no player better epitomized what SU is asking its perimeter players to do than Girard, who finished with 20 points, seven assists and a perfect 7-of-7 mark from the free-throw line. He shot 3-of-10 from deep, which like Boeheim’s 3-of-11 mark needs to rise slightly higher for this strategy to be truly viable. But by taking the open looks from deep when presented and opting to get in the lane to either get fouled or find another shooter when the 3 wasn’t there, Girard presented perhaps the model for what SU’s perimeter players need to do going forward. “If you’re open, shoot it. If you’re not, get it out and run something,” Girard said.For now, Syracuse has two more non-ACC games to find the best balance of 3-point barrage and foul drawing, all while hoping at the same time it doesn’t get overwhelmed inside and outshot entirely. On Wednesday, it was just efficient enough to grind out a win.  Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 18, 2019 at 10:10 pm Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @A_E_Grahamlast_img

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