What we learned from Syracuse’s blowout loss to Wisconsin

first_img Published on November 29, 2016 at 11:35 pm Contact Connor: [email protected] | @connorgrossman MADISON, Wis. — Syracuse fell quickly and quietly in its first true road game of the season. No. 17 Wisconsin (6-2) dizzied No. 22 SU (4-2) with its ball movement and bolted past the Orange, 77-60, on Tuesday night in the Kohl Center.At times the Orange was bit by its inexperience with the zone defense, and offensively it never gained much traction, starting with the two ringleaders in point guards John Gillon and Frank Howard.Here are three things we learned from Tuesday’s loss, the second straight for Syracuse.When Syracuse needs offense, it has to start from the point guardsThe luxury of two quality point guards has been apparent for the Orange since the season began. Howard brings an intellectual perspective atop the offense, whizzing passes most other players on the court aren’t capable of. Gillon brings a jolt of speed and is capable of jumpstarting the offense with his shot or rapid ball movement.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut when neither player could fully execute his skill set, or at least not for long enough, the offense gridlocked. SU dispatched more one-on-one action on offense than it would have liked, and the results were evident.“It starts with us,” Howard said of the offensive movement. “I wasn’t really on the floor to do a lot of that in the second half. It just is what it is.”Gillon was on the floor for 24 minutes, and the most offensive traction he could gain is when he took the ball to the hoop himself. He made only three shots, but was fouled multiple times and shot 4-of-5 from the free-throw line.The most consistent offensive action was from Andrew White behind the arc. He notched 14 points in a 4-of-9 night from 3-point land. No other player could muster anything more.The zone will not come easy, especially against lethal ball movementWith a nine-man rotation and five significant contributors playing their first year with SU, struggles with zone were anticipated. But that doesn’t make dealing with it any easier, especially losing big to a team the Orange, on paper, are supposed to compete with.To credit the Badgers, the hosts displayed some of the best ball movement of any team in the country. Wisconsin assisted on 72 percent of its 29 field goals, led by Nigel Hayes’ 10 helpers. The Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year delivered entry passes and zipped balls across the arc, consistently finding open shooters all around the half-court.But therein lied the problem for Syracuse, which was initially surprised by the Badgers’ propensity to shoot the 3 after struggling all season around the arc. So as SU’s zone stretched out, that left the inside more vulnerable. Without taking a single 3, Ethan Happ led all scorers with 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting.He swept underneath the zone, catching freshman Taurean Thompson and the entire front court off guard.“We have a lot of guys trying to figure out exactly what we’re doing,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said.Dajuan Coleman injected some life back into Syracuse’s frontcourtBoeheim was blunt after Saturday’s loss to South Carolina, saying both Paschal Chukwu and Dajuan Coleman weren’t ready to play against a top team. He still might be right, but Coleman’s performance Tuesday was a nudge in the right direction.Syracuse’s defense was tattered for much of the night, but offensively, Coleman showed more ability to get up shots than he had all season. He tallied 12 points, almost all of them coming directly beneath the basket. Twice in the opening five minutes, he backed down the 6-foot-10 Happ in the low block.He correctly timed his turns to the basket and muscled both early baskets in. While Boeheim acknowledged Tyler Lydon is best positioned to score when he plays center, SU needs the protection and physicality Coleman can provide. Chukwu’s inability to progress at the onset of this season only highlights that need. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img


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