1 Comments Published on 2.23.2010 by John Brennan
Fred's offering donuts from beyond the grave
Admit it. Providence started chucking up -- and hitting -- 3's, and you thought to yourself "oh shit, this is a trap game!"
"But that's a side effect of the zone," you reassure yourself. "They'll eventually cool off." And cool off they did, as Syracuse went on a crazy 2nd half run to beat Providence 99-85 at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Tuesday night. Seems as though the Orange just can't go a game without giving its fans a scare. And I'm not sure which was scarier: giving up the huge lead to Georgetown and just barely icing it with seconds to go -- or playing significant minutes losing to the Friars while they were unconscious from beyond the arc? Either way, Syracuse was able to once again find a way to win, and their visit to the smallest state in the Union improves their record to 26-2 overall, 13-2 in the Big East, and perfect on the road.
Syracuse got off to a pretty quick start in this one, and their game plan was obvious: get the ball down low, score early, and score often. This game plan provided Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson to step up and actually have an impact on the box score. However, with PC hitting 3's like nobody's business, the Orange started freaking out. No longer could they get it inside. No longer were Rick & AO scoring with ease. No longer was Syracuse winning.
But this wasn't the time to change the game plan. This wasn't the time to change the defensive scheme. After all, we all saw what happened when Syracuse switched to man during some skirmish against a fellow school in Onondaga County that I still cannot find any official record of. Point is, the zone is vulnerable to the three. And quite frankly, if a team wants to shoot 33 three's in a game, that's fine. They won't hit them all. Providence only hit 14, for 42%. Meanwhile, even though Syracuse decided to go a stretch of the game without getting the ball inside, they decided to try to beat Providence at its own game. Syracuse put up 21 three-point attempts, connecting on 10 for a whopping 48%, Andy Rautins having 8 of those himself. But more on Andy, right after this.
A little extension of the 2-3 zone, and a little more intensity, and we started to see the Syracuse team we had expected to see. They were running up and down the floor. They were grabbing rebounds (37, including 17 from the offensive glass). They were stealing the ball (12) and blocking shots (5). They were playing Syracuse Basketball.
Leading the way for the Orange was Andy Rautins. And Rick Jackson. They each had a game high 28 points and played nearly the entire game (40 minutes for Andy, 39 for Rick). It's easy to give them each "Player of the Game" awards, and each of them were representative of why Syracuse won. While Rick represented the inside dominance of the Syracuse offense, Andy was the heart and soul of the deep ball and the active defense. Oh yeah, and there's that little matter of Andy DUNKING the ball. At the Dunk. So that was pretty nice. And that's not to take away from the rest of the actors, all of whom had decent games. AO had 12 points and 9 boards, 5 on the offensive end. Wes Johnson had 10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals. Brandon Triche was a little quieter but still contributed 6 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Off the bench, Scoop Jardine had only 8 points and 4 assists, while Kris Joseph had 7 points and 8 rebounds. Decent, solid numbers from the 5, 6, and 7 spots on the depth chart, but maybe a little off from what we've been seeing.
For the Friars, Marshon Brooks and Jamaine Peterson each chipped in 23 points. My player to watch, Sharaud Curry, had a solid 11 points and 4 assists in 29 minutes of play, including 3 of 6 from outside. But it just wasn't enough.
So why did Syracuse win this game? Like a Kenyan in a marathon, they went on a huge run in the second half. That was really the needle that broke the camel's back. But more importantly, it was the adjustments Syracuse made to be able to make that run -- and the lack of adjustment from the Friars. Their game plan was to shoot threes until they were fuchsia in the face. Must be head coach Keno Davis didn't watch the Bobby Knight video that has been replayed a baker's dozen times on ESPN over the past week on "how to beat the Syracuse 2-3 zone." I mean, that video is available online on demand, meaning anytime he wanted to watch it, he could. It was right there. But, I'm not a D-1 head coach, what do I know?
This win completes a season sweep for Syracuse over the Friars, and moves the Orangemen that much closer to the outright regular season Big East title. Standing in the way, of course, is a date with destinyUSA on Saturday. Some team from Philadelphia. I hear there's a huge snowstorm coming, so maybe they won't make it. It would be a shame for 34,616 people to show up for a forfeit. But seriously, much more to come on Orange::44 leading up to the Gameday gauntlet on Saturday.
As for the t-shirt winner, big congrats goes out to Max Eckstein, who guessed Kris Joseph would play 20 minutes. He was the closest to 22 without going over. He also correctly guessed DaShonte Riley would clock in at 0 minutes, and that Syracuse would win. A big hat trick there, Max, great job! Be sure to send your information to Brian at the official Orange::44 email address above so he can mail you your prize. Remember, you won't get it before the game Saturday, unless you'll be in Syracuse and can make arrangements with Brian.
Well, unless I get crazy tomorrow and feel like posting something, I guess I'll hand the reins of the blog back over to Brian when he gets back to town. It's been fun. Look for his Lacrosse stuff later this week.