Previewing Syracuse

2009 Scouting Report / 2009 Game Plan / 2010 Scouting Report / 2010 Game Plan / 2011 Scouting Report
2011 Stats (pdf)
2011 Roster
2011 Schedule

Syracuse Offense 08-09
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 54.4 16
Turnover Rate 20.6 192
Off Reb Rate 35.6 78
FTA/FGA 39.3 92
Syracuse Offense 09-10
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 57.6 2
Turnover Rate 21.5 235
Off Reb Rate 37.6 29
FTA/FGA 36.9 191

 

 

 

 

 

Syracuse presents just about the worst matchup imaginable for NC State.  Defensively, of course, they play Boeheim's patented 2-3 zone, and that along with their size discourages production in the paint.  Offensively, they've been one of the most accurate teams in the country over the last two seasons, and that size comes in handy here as well. Expect more abuse on the glass.

Last season they were just ridiculously diverse.  Every single player in the rotation shot at least 50% inside the arc--they had the best 2FG% in the nation--and their four most frequent outside shooters were all 40% or better from three, which helped them to the 16th-best 3FG% in the country.  If not for turnovers, they'd have been truly scary.  As it was, they were still damn good.

That rotation included Wes Johnson, who made shots everywhere, and three-point specialist Andy Rautins, who also made shots everywhere, though he attempted far fewer twos and free throws than Johnson.  Among the luxuries of such a varied attack is that you don't necessarily need one or two guys to be the focal point; the lighter a player's load, the more efficient he can be, and hey I found a license to print money.  Johnson was the heaviest contributor on last year's team, but he took a fairly modest (by go-to standards) 23.3% of the shots.  The other six rotation members took between 18 and 22 percent of the shots--that's great balance.

Now that Johnson, Rautins, and the foul-prone but highly efficient Arinze Onuaku are gone, Syracuse is going to find points harder to come by.  Indeed, they're off to a slow start by recent standards.  Their outside shooting in particular has been a problem.  Turnovers could plague this team again, and it's a fair bet they'll be a terrible free throw shooting team as per usual.  But they've continued to grab a lot of their own misses.  I shudder to think what their front line will do to ours at that end.

Starters

Scoop Jardine (6-2, 190) -- Scoop's a good player and yada yada, but the really cool thing about him is that you can rearrange the letters in his name to spell Jade Scorpion.  That sounds like a pretty awesome comic book villain. I hope he's made aware of this because he's missing some sweet tattoo opportunities.  I'm thinking a giant scorpion toppling a building while shooting lasers at Godzilla.  Or a scorpion dunking a basketball dripping with poison.  Make them small enough and there's room for both.

Jardine was more of a secondary option in 2010 and benefited from the lack of pressure to score.  This year he is trying to both run the offense and fill some of the void left by Wes Johnson; the results are mixed.  On Tuesday, Jim Boeheim was not so generous:

"He was horrible," Boeheim said. "He couldn't be any worse than he played tonight."

[snip]

"I could get seven assists in a game with a bad finger," he said. "He was nowhere in the game tonight."

Bus undercarriage, meet the Jade Scorpion.  Jade Scorpion, bus undercarriage.

He's made 36% of his twos and 28% of his threes to this point in the season; those numbers are down from 52% and 39%, respectively.  On the plus side, his assist rate is enormous.  (Ladies...)

Brandon Triche (6-4, 205) -- Triche is doing the sophomore slump thing.  His role has not increased, the shots just aren't falling like they did last season.  His three-point accuracy has gone the way of Jardine's, and turnovers have been a big issue.

Kris Joseph (6-7, 210) -- Joseph insists he's got three-point range despite shooting 7-26 as a freshman and 9-41 as a sophomore.  This year he's made a third of his 27 attempts, which I suppose is progress.  Fortunately for Syracuse he's an effective scorer in the paint, where he shoots far more often.  A big part of his value lies in getting to the line and making free throws; he's good at doing both of those things.  He figures to be a heavy contributor on Saturday.

Rick Jackson (6-9, 240) -- Now we get into the crap, look at these tall dudes portion of the preview.  As a junior in 2010, Jackson was Syracuse's best offensive rebounder and shot blocker.  He also made 59% of his field goal attempts.  Sure, the defensive rebounding percentage could have been better, but suffice it to say he played tall.  (I also wonder if playing so much zone D might suppress a given player's DR% to some extent.)

Fab Melo (7-0, 244) -- Judging by Melo's limited playing time, high foul rate, high turnover rate, and a workload that is unusually low for a consensus top-15 player, he's a bit of a project.  Excellent shot blocker, though.

Bench

Dion Waiters (6-4, 215), C.J. Fair (6-8, 203), Baye Moussa Keita (6-10, 213), James Southerland (6-8, 210), Mookie Jones (6-6, 220).  Freshman, freshman, freshman, sophomore, sophomore.  Jones is primarily a three-point shooter; 56 of 72 his FGAs last season came from outside.  He made 45% of them. 

Waiters and Fair are both off to good starts.  Waiters is taking about a quarter of the team's shots while he's on the floor and he's been their best three-point shooter. 

BMK is logging more minutes than anyone else off the bench (I'm guessing he spells Melo quickly), rebounding well at both ends and blocking plenty of shots, but he isn't likely to figure into the scoring very often.

The less said about Southerland, the better.

Syracuse Defense 08-09
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 46.7 67
Turnover Rate 18.8 270
Off Reb Rate 35.5 274
FTA/FGA 26.2 10
Syracuse Defense 09-10
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 45.9 49
Turnover Rate 22.0 71
Off Reb Rate 34.6 260
FTA/FGA 25.6 6

 

 

 

 

 

Combined with its size, Syracuse's zone turns most opponents into three-heavers whether they like it or not.  In 2010, 40% of opponents' field goal attempts came from beyond the arc.  That's not unusual.  Opponents have only made about 30% of their three-point attempts since 2009.

What was unusual was that high turnover rate--the first time since '06 they managed to break 20%.  They were able to turn one of the zone's weaknesses into a strength while maintaining their strengths elsewhere, and the result was the best Syracuse defense since at least 2003.  We'll have to wait and see if that TO% holds in 2011.

They're consistently among the best shot blocking teams in the country.  Six times in eight years they've finished with a block percentage ranking in the top 10.  But I'm sure our astute, Macrowave-less front court will scoff at them in the form of deadly accurate hook shots all night long.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes the Orange by 11.  Scott Wood may need to hit 12 threes.

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