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Villanova - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR AHHH 'Nova!

Ed, when you see this kind of thing you should call it right?
Sadly, over the past several seasons, except for a couple of games, Villanova has had Syracuse’s number. It is a sad state of reality and this was a game that gave a lot of people many frustrations I’m sure. This was not a good game in many regards, and certainly not as good a performance as they had against Georgetown. Syracuse loses a “close” one to Villanova 86 to 89.

Eric Devendorf was the leading scorer with 22 points. He had six assists as well. Overall he played well, shooting seven of 14 from the floor, three of ten from long distance, and five of five from the free throw line. However, Eric took some quite bad shots from behind the arc in which he was not open or was forcing things. He finished with four turnovers.

Paul Harris did have a nice game as well. He finished with 21 points on nine of 16 shots from the floor. He also made one of six from behind the arc and finished with six rebounds. He also had a key three steals in the game, leading the Orange. He had his mid range shot going early on, as well as taking some key drives on the base line. Harris probably performed the best overall for the Orange against Villanova.

Andy Rautins had 18 points off the bench. He certainly shot better than he has in the past several games. He made six of 15 three point attempts and earned five assists. All but one of the shots he took were open or good shots, so the fact he took so many is just fine with me. It would be far different if he was just chucking them up. He also made several great passes inside, specifically to Kristof! and Harris. This was a good game from Andy.

Jonny Flynn did not have as good of a game, with 12 points and eight assists. He finished five of 17 overall. Battling the flu, he looked unenergetic and lackluster in the first half. Finally he came alive in he second half and drove the lane, after ditching his head band. His second half was much better than the first, and luckily he helped spur a good effort to come back.

Kristof! had an outstanding game, earning seven points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. He seemed to be in the right place and the right time in several instances, getting good looks at the basket that he converted on three of three field goal attempts. At most points in the game Kristof! was the only one even remotely near the hoop contesting for rebounds. Kristof! should earn another game’s worth of respect from all the Orange fans.

The two big men had very disappointing games. Arinze Onuaku, after having a great game against Georgetown, looked tired and unenergetic while on the floor. He finished with four points. The worst part is the two shots he took looked excellent and vintage Onuaku. Granted he did not have much time on the floor because Kristof! was playing very well. Rick Jackson had an even less thrilling game, finishing only with two points in 27 minutes of work. He did manage to pull down eight rebounds though, which is far more than Onuaku. The inside game was non-existent.

There seemed to be no effort to get the ball inside on many possessions in this game. Not that the big men were in the game to really do much on the low post. However, with no inside game, it was not hard to figure out that Syracuse would settle with outside shots and then they just needed to rebound.

The defense in the first half was very soft on Villanova, especially on Dwayne Anderson. Onuaku, while in the game, never had his hands up at any point. A tall center like him should never not have his hands in the face of a shooter if he is going out to cover them. Additionally, Flynn missed several assignments in the first half while in man defense.

There were two keys to this loss. The first was rebounds. Villanova out rebounded Syracuse 34 to 30 in this game. But the worst part was that on most occasions in this game if Syracuse took a shot Villanova had three or four players around the hoop, while Kristof! would be one of the only Syracuse players trying to get rebounds. With a smaller team like Villanova out rebounding Syracuse, it really fell to the sheer desire of Villanova, and clearly they wanted to win the game more than Syracuse. Additionally, Villanova got an awful lot of points off Syracuse turnovers in the first half. Syracuse had 15 turnovers in this game. Anything more than ten is completely unacceptable in a tough Big East game. It was only by a tough press defense at the end of the game that Syracuse had a remote chance to stay in this game. Syracuse simply handled the ball sloppily in the first half and they paid the price by not being able to overcome the runs that Villanova put together.

Syracuse actually shot the ball fairly well from the floor. Overall they shot 45.7%, but obviously Villanova shot better, earning 52.5% from the floor. A plus to Syracuse’s game today was making a better percentage of their free throws. They made ten of 14 total (71.4%). Syracuse took an awful lot of three point attempts in this game though. They made 12 of 39 (30.8%). However, that is practically double the normal amount of threes they take in a game. Now, to their credit, most of them were good shots, but Harris taking any more than one or two, and Kristof! taking any three point shots, were too much in this game, when there were plenty of other options for higher percentage shots. Especially when good ball movement and extra passes were getting Rautins and Devendorf open.

Either way, this game was frustrating overall. Even though this was not a must win game, it certainly would have been nice, and Syracuse was in a good position to have a chance to win, they just came up short and did not play as well as they should have. This was not a bad loss, but it is just not pleasant to stomach either. Syracuse will have a change for another crucial Big East win tomorrow in New York City against St. John’s. Syracuse will again look to rebound against a lesser opponent. Hopefully Syracuse will have an easier time with the low post game and enjoy a home game away from home in the Garden, the Mecca of Basketball.

Look for a post-game wrap up chat with I Bleed Blue and White coming tomorrow. Also, we have some lacrosse to talk about very soon, so enjoy all that as we prepare for one of the best lacrosse games of the year coming Friday.

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