Orange Send A Loud Message On Defense
In a team-oriented sport like basketball, we often hear about the importance of communication: the coach calling plays, the point guard running them, the coach letting his players know when they’ve made a mistake. It’s hugely important, but as a team, Syracuse is sending a loud, loud message to its opponents with its defense:
“You’re not going to get many chances to score on us, and when you come up short, we’re not going to bail you out.”
Entering Wednesday night’s action, the Orange ranked in the top ten nationally in each of the following categories:
- Defensive turnover percentage (29.9% – second)
- Offensive rebounding percentage (43.0% – sixth)
- Blocked shots per game (6.8 – eighth)
- Defensive block percentage (21.7% – third)
- Steals per game (12.4 – first)
- Defensive steal percentage (17.9% – first)
As if that weren’t enough to tell you just how effectively the zone is working, the Orange rank in the bottom ten percent of all teams in fouls committed. The vice grip has been so tight that not a single team has scored even one point per possession. The closest any of SU’s nine opponents have come to the national average of offensive efficiency came against Albany, when Gerardo Suero and Logan Aronhalt gave the Orange headaches, but even then, SU won by a comfortable 14-point margin.
Some teams are able to make up for their scoring challenges in other areas, such as Marshall’s impressive glasswork Tuesday night. As of Wednesday night, three Big East teams in addition to the Orange (Pittsburgh, UConn and West Virginia) rank in the top ten nationally in offensive rebounding percentage, so SU’s biggest tests are still to come, but it’s hard not to be blown away by the clamps they’ve put down.
The schedule has been pretty soft, even by Jim Boeheim’s standards, but Marshall and Tulane’s success in the early going have nudged the slate up just a tick from how it was perceived when it was finalized before the season. It’s still an uninspiring set of opponents – and that’s with Florida included. This isn’t me putting lipstick on a pig, but I have a feeling that at the end of the season, it won’t look nearly as bad as we thought as when the schedule was assembled.
In short, to beat the Orange, all you have to do is play a well-rounded game at both ends of the floor and hope for a heavy dose of miscues by the Orange.
Pretty simple, right?