0 Comments Published on 3.01.2014 by John Brennan
|Baye, you need to wear an orange shirt that matches your jersey!|
By all accounts, Syracuse had a tough task on Saturday: go into John Paul Jones Arena and beat the #1 team in the ACC, to keep alive hopes of winning the regular season ACC title. Winning also would have shown that the ship has been righted, carrying over some momentum from Monday's win at Maryland. But a tall task that all would be: Virginia plays tough defense, and Syracuse is having offensive troubles. Recipe for a perfect disaster. And yet, Syracuse started the game shooting at a decent clip, even holding onto a 28-27 halftime lead. But soon thereafter, the wheels came off. The Orange (as opposed to the orange) had a hard time getting any semblance of an offense going in the second half, marked by a 10+ minute period between field goals. Timely rebounding and transition points allowed Virginia to build a lead it couldn't and wouldn't give up. The Cavaliers beat Syracuse 75-56.
- CJ Fair and Tyler Ennis led the way for Syracuse offensively, each scoring 13 points. Trevor Cooney was close behind with 12. Rakeem Christmas scored eight, and Michael Gbinije & Tyler Roberson each had five. That's it.
- Syracuse shot a dismal 35.7% from the field in this game.
- Syracuse was out-rebounded 39-29.
- Virginia led in almost every statistical category: shooting (50% to 35.7%); assists (19-8); threes (50% to 22.7%); points in the paint (34-24); points off turnovers (9-7); second chance points (21-10); fast break points (4-0); bench points (20-10)
- Some of the justification for Syracuse's poor effort can be attributed to Jerami Grant, who only played 13 minutes in the first half, and did not see action in the second. He was limited to 0-3 from the field, and really only just a defensive rebound to show for his minutes.
- Jerami's poor play and lack of minutes goes back to his back injury. While he was able to rest it this week, get some treatment, and was optimistic enough to play -- even start this game -- it is clear that this soreness is a lot more serious than we've been led to believe. At this point, I don't know what to think... will he ever be able to return to 100%, even with some rest in between these next few games? Then, once ACC Tourney time starts, we're talking about games on consecutive days; NCAA, 2 games in three days at a time.
- We've all had back soreness at some point. It sucks. Even for us regular folks, who probably don't do such physical things as basketball on the regular. So this is going to be a big deal for Jerami -- either finding a way to play through it, or going on the shelf until he's actually 100%.
- In the meantime, we get to see more Michael Gbinije, which is nice. He's a good shooter, can cover some ground on defense, and can even get some rebounds. That said, he's still pretty green, and though we see flashes of greatness from him, he's going through some growing pains and is too inconsistent to be a regular, constant threat.
- That also means some more Tyler Roberson minutes. This Tyler is a freshman without all the talent of our starting point guard. He actually plays like a freshman. Great potential, yes, but there's a reason he's not getting serious minutes from Jim Boeheim; if he could regularly contribute, coach would play him more.
- Since we're talking about Tylers, I'll take this opportunity to mention that Tyler Ennis fouled out of this game. He had a couple charges called against him, as well as some stupid fouls in transition. He sort of played like a freshman today.
Over the past ten days, we've seen Syracuse lose three times. That kicks us in the face. Sure, we were spoiled to get 25 straight wins, and grew to just expect this team to win, night in and night out. Welcome back to reality. It sucks sometimes. Still, this team is 26-3, 13-3 in the ACC, and still in a great position to enter the postseason. Syracuse has clinched, at worse, a 3-seed in the ACC Tournament. With wins against Georgia Tech on Tuesday and at Florida State next Sunday, our Orange gets a 2-seed. And that, with a good showing in the ACC Tourney, should probably position Syracuse for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Book your tickets for Buffalo and New York City. The sky's not falling just yet. But, man, this offense needs to find its swagger again.