Syracuse students agree: "Flying Dutchmen" was a better moniker.
Syracuse's recent struggles have been well documented; there's no need to rehash such performances on this notebook. As the Orange's Big East Conference slate looms on the not-too-distant horizon, Syracuse must find a cure to what ills it or 2006-2007 could go down as one of the most disappointing seasons in Syracuse's illustrious basketball history.
The first step in such a remedy comes Friday night, when the Orange welcomes downstate foe Hofstra to the Carrier Dome. Syracuse is a decided favorite in this contest and should blow the doors off the Pride.
Of course, if things don't go according to plan, there's going to be big time trouble on The Hill.
As always, for an exhaustive explanation of Pomeroy's methodology and statistical theory, this link may be a useful resource.
When Syracuse is on Offense
|Four Factors: Orange "O" v. Pride "D"|
|Team||Eff. FG||Turn. %||Off. Reb.||FT Rate|
The fact here is simple: Hofstra is a defensive mess. With an adjusted defensive efficiency value of 109.5 (good for 300th in the nation), Hofstra is inept when opponents have the basketball. What is really killing the Pride, however, is its inability to stop opponents from inside the arc (opponents are shooting 50.6% from two-point territory).
In other words, Friday could present a career game for the white-hot Demetris Nichols.
The other major point of emphasis is that Hofstra is one of the worst defensive teams in the country at allowing opponents to get to the foul line. Generating a free throw rate value of 45.5 (good for 296th best in the nation), opponents are killing the Pride from the charity stripe. As Syracuse has done a tremendous job at getting to the line (21st best in the country), the Orange can really make some hay if the choose to pound the ball inside and slash to the basket.
Of course, this necessarily requires Syracuse to knock down its free throw attempts. Everyone knows, however, how dicey that fact is.
Finally – and this point is fairly unimportant – Syracuse needs to push the tempo of this game. As noted above, Syracuse likes to play in transition. Hofstra, constrastingly, enjoys a slower pace, generating only 67.1 possessions per contest. If Syracuse can get out and run, the Orange offense may simply fatigue Hofstra to the point that offensive opportunities become more plentiful.
When Syracuse is on Defense
|Four Factors: Orange "D" v. Pride "O"|
|Team||Eff. FG||Turn. %||Off. Reb.||FT Rate|
From a player perspective, Hofstra maintains two terrific offensive options: Loren Stokes and Antoine Agudio. With offensive efficiency ratings significantly north of 100.0 and, as a tandem, eating up 57.4% of Hofstra’s offensive shot attempts, Stokes and Aguido pose a serious threat to Syracuse’s ability to smother its opponents.
From a team perspective, Hofstra presents an attack indicative of many mid-majors in its class. The Pride is a somewhat perimeter-oriented team, attempting three-point shots on 38.4% of the team’s total field goal attempts. What is concerning, however, is that Hofstra is knocking down those behind-the-arc attempts at a 39.3% rate, good for 53rd best in the nation.
Given the fact that Syracuse is allowing opponents to knock down 31.4% of its three-point shots (an average rate, but nonetheless worrisome given the Orange’s desire to sit in a zone defense), Syracuse must do a good job at extending the defense and forcing Hofstra to attempt shots inside the arc. The residue of such a defensive strategy is twofold.
First, Syracuse is second in the nation in block percentage at 22.2%. As the Orange has at its disposal significantly larger bodies up front, the opportunity to force the Pride into empty possessions resulting from blocked attempts bodes well for a Syracuse attack that enjoys getting out in transition (Syracuse is averaging 72.1 possessions per game).
Secondly, Hofstra is only shooting 50.6% from two-point territory. Against a Syracuse defense that only allows its opponents to covert on 41.7% of its two-point tries, Hofstra is going to want to set-up outside and bomb the lights out. Taking Hofstra out of its comfort zone by forcing it to beat Syracuse inside may result in rushed shots and offensive confusion.
The final point of emphasis concerns Hofstra’s inability to hit the offensive glass and Syracuse’s recent struggles on the defensive glass. As a team that is generally perimeter-oriented, Hofstra has been absolutely horrific at creating offensive boards. With so many long attempts and an offensive strategy that inherently spreads the floor to get open three-point looks, Hofstra is ranked 251st in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage.
Syracuse, unsurprisingly, has been just as inept at getting defensive boards, allowing opponents to generate a 36.0% offensive rebounding percentage (232nd in the nation). With such a tension existing, whoever dominates this point of emphasis should have the upper hand in the success category. Consequently, Syracuse needs Daryl Watkins to have a huge game and Terrence Roberts, despite his day-to-day status, to actually start contributing on the defensive end.