Orange Try To Find Even Rhythm Against Long Beach State
The Orange take the court tonight coming off a win that was a little more troublesome than the score indicated. SU didn’t take control until midway through the first half when it turned on its press and forced action from Eastern Michigan, who had preferred to walk it up the court and burn clock in a fashion eerily reminiscent of South Florida.
While Syracuse’s defense has been terrific, the team hasn’t enjoyed a game on offense where more than a couple players have shot it well. That may sound odd considering the team scored 60 points in about 22 minutes once they started pressing on Monday, but I think you’d agree that the team needs to be more consistent when it comes to valuing the ball.
Early on, the Orange just didn’t take care of the rock. There were lazy passes, off-target passes that put teammates in awful position to do anything with the ball and suspect dribbling. Michael Carter-Williams’ high usage rate means he’s bound to cough it up more than usual from a raw statistical standpoint, but he made some highly questionable decisions Monday, and those moves were a big reason why the Eagles were able to stay with the Orange as long as they did. I’m not very worried about him struggling to get his shot going because he’s done enough and then some in the other aspects of his game that it’s really difficult to get on him. He could use a good shooting night, but it’s not the most pressing issue for him at the moment.
We also saw Trevor Cooney finally get off the schneid with a pair of threes and a big-time display of athleticism, and now we’ll have the chance to see if he can build on it. As his first three went in, you could almost see the pressure lift, and if he can supplement James Southerland’s firepower from behind the three-point line, Syracuse will really be in business.
Down low, Dajuan Coleman broke loose after the Arkansas game where the pace was just too far out of his league for him to contribute much. Against EMU, he was able to get position and convert without much trouble despite picking up two early fouls. Long Beach State has some size, with four regulars who are 6’7 or taller, but the bulk isn’t quite there aside from 255-pound West Virginia transfer Dan Jennings.
About Long Beach State
Dan Monson and the 49ers have made a name for themselves with an insane travel schedule over the past few years. They received a ton of attention last season for upsetting Pitt and hanging with the likes of Louisville, Kansas and North Carolina. They’re at it again, but since graduating four starters from last season, the results have left much more to be desired as LBSU has been thumped by Southern Cal, North Carolina and Arizona. The 49ers ran a very efficient offense in 2011-12, but the roster had so much turnover during the summer that it’s hardly recognizable. They haven’t hit shots inside the arc and have been only average from distance, which has put a ton of pressure on its defense, which just hasn’t delivered. LBSU’s defense hasn’t shown an ability to get extra possessions on the glass or generate enough turnovers to make up for the shortcomings on offense. Also, while James Ennis and Peter Pappageorge are a combined 42-47 from the stripe, the rest of the team is an Onuakian 49% from the line. The Big West won’t give the 49ers a ton of problems come conference play, but they’ve had major issues hanging with the big-name opponents Monson has lined up for the non-con.
F James Ennis – 23 points, 7-13 shooting, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks in a loss to Fresno State Monday
G Mike Caffey – Shooting 29.2% on the season (20% 3FG) despite 96 attempts in seven games
G Peter Pappageorge – Shooting 37% on the season and 2-13 for five points in his last two games
F Dan Jennings – 11 points combined in his last two games
This would have been a much more interesting game had it been scheduled last season, when LBSU’s offense ran much, much more efficiently. Hell, last season’s team probably would have been favored against USC, who beat the 49ers by 18 in November. As things stand, though, I wouldn’t count on LBSU to present many problems for SU’s offense and I expect the Orange to avoid the early-game struggles that made Monday night such a sloppy affair at the start. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to see Jerami Grant put up another stellar game after playing so well against Eastern Michigan.