Offensive tweaks lead to 70-54 Syracuse win over Colgate

first_img Published on November 13, 2019 at 9:04 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse needed a new offensive game plan after a historic season-opening loss to Virginia. To find one, it looked to the past. Before Wednesday night’s 127th win over Colgate, SU watched film of its last Final Four team. Specifically, Orange ball-handlers studied the trio of Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson’s circle-motion offense. The goal, assistant head coach Gerry McNamara said, was to create more movement and spark a strategy chastised as stagnant a week prior. “The big thing is not playing in congestion,” McNamara said. “These guys have to have room to operate. … A lot of guys are visual (learners) so it’s nice to go piggy-back.” And despite another slow offensive start, Syracuse achieved that goal. For at least for one night against the most-familiar foe, the offense appeared as it should. If Syracuse’s loss to the Cavaliers sounded alarms, then its win against Colgate (1-2) eased the tension. The Orange (1-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) cruised, 70-54, showing what they can do when not facing one of the country’s best defenses. SU shot nearly 50% from the field, benefiting from a game plan filled with more motion and early passes up the court. Shooters Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim established a rhythm, a new starting point guard — Joe Girard III — stepped up, and veteran center Bourama Sidibe posted another career-performance.  Meanwhile, the defense had another strong output — the Raiders went 13-of-41 from deep — and eased depth concerns for another 40 minutes. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOf the 21,281 in attendance that watched the win, however, there was a notable chunk of empty seats in the lower bowl. Otto’s Army, Syracuse’s student section, announced three hours before game-time they weren’t attending the contest in response to the university’s handling of the Day Hall incident. They asked other students to do the same. A few hundred yards from the Dome, in the Barnes Center at The Arch, students participated in a day-long sit-in. “I think Syracuse has always been a minority-friendly school, athletically and student-body wise,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I always felt that. What happened in that situation could be a complete moron, a non-student. We don’t know. You can’t blame the university for one or two people … This has always been a great place I think for everybody.”When the ball tipped shortly after 7 p.m., a less-than-half full student section watched the Orange settle into an early 11-1 deficit. SU guards didn’t drive into the paint, instead passing around the perimeter. The start mirrored the UVA game, both offensively and defensively. Colgate flung five 3-pointers in the opening four minutes. Only one was a clean look and the others ended possessions. As the clock slipped under 14 minutes in the first half, the scoreboards around the Carrier Dome showed a ‘1’ underneath the home team’s name. Each Orange starter had missed a shot, but Sidibe finally slipped through for SU’s first field goal, just as he did on Nov. 6 against Virginia. Sidibe’s opening bucket kickstarted more. He followed with another score off the glass on the ensuing possession. Then Buddy sunk two open 3s, one from the top of the key and the other from the elbow, lifting the crowd. The 10-0 run spurred a Colgate timeout, the game tied and crowd relieved. The new offense, led by Buddy, Hughes and Girard, featured more movement and consistently sent Hughes through double-screens. As the guard rotates through, essentially running in a circle, they’re faced with the same option: Set a pick or attack the lane. More often than not, Colgate’s elbow defenders weren’t athletic enough to track them. “We put wrinkles in our offense,” Hughes, who finished with 14 points and 8 assists, said, “We have more spacing so guys can make dribble lanes and make plays from there.” Sidibe scored on back-to-back possessions twice, both times taking advantage of the Raiders focusing on the guard off of screens. After one Sidibe layup, freshman John Bol Ajak flexed at the junior center from the bench. After posting his only double-double last year against the Raiders, Sidibe had another career-game, ending with 12 points and 14 rebounds on 6-for-6 shooting. Boeheim announced after the game that Bol Ajak would redshirt this season.Spurts of extreme efficiency continued through the second half. A 7-1 stretch gave SU a six-point halftime lead which ballooned further. On SU’s second possession in the second frame, Dolezaj capped a breakaway spin move with a dunk to eclipse the offense’s output from a week ago. Syracuse’s offense operated best in the fast break, preying on unsettled Colgate guards by finding shooters or quick outlets. The Orange tallied 16 fast break points to the Raiders’ zero. The remainder of the second half saw more of the same: Syracuse’s offense created high-quality looks and sprinkled the occasional 3-pointer in while the defense let the Raiders keep shooting and subsequently missing. Following a Tucker Richardson 3-pointer, Girard solidified his new position as starter over Jalen Carey with a 3-pointer and alley-oop pass to Sidibe. Their largest lead of the game carrying them into a timeout, Buddy laughed and shook his head as he sat down. Wednesday night was about the 2019 Orange taking their first step, albeit a game later than they would’ve liked.“We got to get our offense going better,” Boeheim said. “… Everybody on our team played better on offense. It’s a process and we have to get there.” Commentslast_img