Orange Face Blue Devils In Final Non-Con Tune-Up
There’s no mistaking the fact that the Orange are in a rut offensively. Dating back to the second half of the Detroit game, SU has looked, listless, lost, pressed, woeful and just about any other adjective you want to throw out there. The most alarming thing about the Orange’s current slump is that it isn’t limited to just one area of the game, but if you were to rank all the problems in order of importance, it’d be tough to argue against SU’s recent shooting.
You just can’t dress up a 40% mark from the floor, 15% from beyond the arc and 58% from the free throw line – SU’s performance over their last five halves of ball. This from a team with four players averaging double figures in the scoring department. Hitting shots of all kinds has been a major issue as of late.
In the Orange’s best games, their offense has fed heavily off their defense, relying on defensive rebounds and turnovers. However, despite turning Alcorn State over on a staggeringly high 46% of its possessions, SU failed to crack even 60 points against a SWAC team. If you watched the Temple game, you know how badly the Orange’s defense struggled, and in addition to the missed free throws, it may have been the difference.
The Orange have another chance to get back on the right track this afternoon against Central Connecticut State. The “other” Blue Devils have an interesting blueprint as a team. They can get out and run, but they do a very good job holding onto the ball even though they play at the nation’s 29th-highest pace. CCSU’s shooting isn’t anything to sneeze at either, as they sport the NEC’s third-best field goal and three-point percentages. The Blue Devils are also nails from the stripe, hitting 80% of their attempts, good for third in the country. The Orange will have to respect leading scorer Kyle Vinales and gunner Adonis Burbage.
Another reason why it’s important for SU to snap out of it offensively is because Central Connecticut State plays a very short rotation. Four starters average at least 33 minutes a game, and Vinales has sat for just six minutes all season. Not a single bench player for the Blue Devils plays more than 15 minutes per game. Suffice it to say they would love to have the kind of sixth men that the Orange have fielded in recent years.
Defensively, CCSU really struggles. Only eight teams in the country allow a greater percentage of threes to find nylon and the Blue Devils are equally poor on both the offensive and defensive glass, giving their shooters a razor-thin margin for error. Considering their limitations in second-chances, the fact that they’re second in their conferences in scoring says a lot about their offense, but it also says something about the quality of teams they’ve played. They were blown out by Indiana, but have played just one other team from the KenPom top 100 (La Salle, who they beat by 7).
SU will be a heavy favorite this afternoon, and I look for them to break the habits that have surfaced over the last two weeks and get off to a fast start on offense for a change. The Orange have such a big size advantage that the Blue Devils should struggle to get many clean looks inside and will be forced to rely on their perimeter shooting, where the Orange’s defense has held steady all season. A win won’t wipe away the doubts that have been raised about this team, but it would be nice to close the non-con schedule on a positive note.