Thoughts on Syracuse – North Carolina
If you read the final score, you will see that North Carolina won comfortably over Syracuse last night. If you watched the game, you saw that it was anything but comfortable, as Syracuse lead for large parts of the game and played quite well. To be sure, North Carolina was careless with the ball–but that is not uncommon for teams that rarely see the aggressive 2-3 zone. In many ways, this game was a positive for Syracuse, as it showed it can fully compete with top 15 teams. I know I am more positive than before. Still… a few nagging things to note.
Every game, we see a non-star shooting the lights out against Syracuse. That is part of the beauty of the 2-3 zone–it tries to make teams rely on secondary players to win the game. Many times, a lesser player will score 20 points in a losing effort. Sometimes that lesser player scores 20 points in an upset or win.
But ask yourself this–how often does Syracuse have a player come in off the bench to hit three-pointers. Was Andy Rautins the last player to be a bench sharp-shooter? Cooney was “on” for most of last night, which is nice. But Syracuse needs to always make sure it has a second shooter. Always. Always. Always. I get that there are others on the team that can occasionally hit threes, but the team in 2015 needs to devote another scholarship spot to someone who can shoot. End of story.
And watching Syracuse tire late, it was obvious that Boeheim’s ways pay a price. If you do not use your bench early, your players tire late. This is not brain surgery. Boeheim may be closing in on 1,000 wins, but perhaps he would be a bit closer if he would at least consider the idea of resting players. These guys CAN play 40 minutes a game. But it does not always make sense to make them do that. Tired legs equals fouls and missed shots. BJ Johnson played last night. Maybe if he had played a bit more selectively early on, Roberson would have avoided one of those silly fouls.
One final note is that maybe it makes sense to get Chino some run beside Christmas. The way Rak is playing, there is no reason why he could not play some “4.” If Joseph and Patterson are going to be that ineffective, perhaps occasionally Syracuse should go “big” and use a frontline of Chino, Rak, and Roberson for a few minutes. That might be a good way to rest Cooney too, as Silent G can play the 2.
Hey, Boeheim is a hero and a legend. He know more than all of us ever will. But sometimes even the legends need to rethink their ways, especially when the game changes on a large scale (needing another shooter) or smaller scale (injury woes). Given the looming schedule, the flexibility certainly cannot hurt.