Previewing The Return Of The Jade Scorpion

Syracuse @ StatSheet
2011 Stats / 2012 Stats (pdf)
2012 Roster
2012 Schedule

Syracuse Offense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 52.8 33
Turnover Rate 18.6 84
Off Reb Rate 36.7 31
FTA/FGA 36.0 226
Syracuse Offense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 52.8 54
Turnover Rate 17.0 26
Off Reb Rate 41.7 7
FTA/FGA 29.5 294

You can generally count on Boeheim's teams to shoot and rebound well at the offensive end, and this year's version is no different. The great size that makes them formidable at the defensive end really pays off at the offensive end in these areas. They're very accurate in the paint and good enough outside to keep defenses honest, though they don't like to take a lot of threes.

Relatively speaking, NC State's defensive effort against this team in the Dome last year was one of the Pack's best of the season. The Orange did not shot very well and we somehow kept them from grabbing very many offensive boards. Can the guys somehow find a way to do that again?

Starters

Scoop Jardine (6-2, 190) -- The Jade Scorpion has the highest eFG% of his career at this point, which can't last unless his three-point shooting picks up. To this point, though, he's been deadly inside the arc: 28-44 (63.6%). And he's only 9-20 from the free throw line. The kids these days, man, you can't make any sense out of 'em. His assist rate is outstanding and he ranks in the top 10 nationally in steal percentage. Here we get our first glance at the terror that is this Syracuse defense.

Brandon Triche (6-4, 205) -- Triche's workload is higher than ever, and he's handling it well so far. Being in the non-conference part of the schedule always helps with that sort of thing; which is not to say that he can't be an efficient contributor throughout the season if he maintains his current usage level. Like Jardine, he dishes assists at a solid rate but doesn't get to the foul line very often.

Kris Joseph (6-7, 210) -- Joseph, who is the team's leading scorer, has done a nice job improving his range over the course of his career, and as a result he's a tough matchup. Last year he hit 50.7% of his twos and 36.6% of his threes.

Rakeem Christmas (6-9, 209) -- Christmas is not sure what this college basketball deal is all about just yet and he's gonna kind of hang out at the back of the room until it starts making more sense to him. What he's done in extremely limited opportunities is encouraging, and he's been a menace on the offensive glass. But he's also turning the ball over a ton and nothing quite says "I am tall and I am a freshman" like a 32% turnover rate despite a workload south of 15%.

Fab Melo (7-0, 244) -- Appears to be making solid progress after what was a relatively lackluster freshman season given his five-star pedigree. Dropping a few pounds probably didn't hurt. He still isn't a huge factor in the Syracuse offense, but he's a monster on the offensive glass and blocks a ton of shots at the defensive end.

Bench:

James Southerland (6-8, 210), C.J. Fair (6-8, 203), Baye Moussa Keita (6-10, 213), Dion Waiters (6-4, 215). On the season stats page, Southerland is listed as "Southerland, Jam" so you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered his first name isn't Jam. But he's as likely to shoot a three as he is a two, so it's just as well. Can't sleep on this dude when he's lurking on the perimeter.

Dion Waiters has a steal percentage around 6.0, which means he picks up a steal about six times for every 100 possessions he spends on the floor. That rate leads the nation, and as Luke Winn's thorough analysis points out, he's very good at picking the pockets of dribbling players.

Syracuse Defense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 45.5 24
Turnover Rate 21.3 94
Off Reb Rate 33.0 211
FTA/FGA 29.7 34
Syracuse Defense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 42.9 28
Turnover Rate 29.5 2
Off Reb Rate 35.7 266
FTA/FGA 27.7 30

Syracuse's defense held both Stanford (67th ranked offense) and Florida (#1 offense) to their least efficient offensive performances of the season. Only one opponent (oddly enough, it was Albany) has cracked a point per possession on the Orange and only one opponent has managed to turn the ball over less than 22% of the time (Albany again). Syracuse has played four teams in the Pomeroy Ratings top 60, and the lowest turnover rate of that group was Virginia Tech's 25.5% mark. Stanford turned the ball over on one out of every three possessions.

Not surprisingly given the above, they rank first in steal percentage. And fourth in block percentage. You remember at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when that first guy goes in the tunnel and he gets beheaded and his head comes bouncing out down the stairs? That's how I imagine this interior defense.

As you might imagine, they force a lot of three-point attempts, whether opponents really want to take them or not. Twenty-three of State's 51 field goal attempts against the Orange last season were threes. Scott Wood took 15! He also made six, and we desperately need a repeat performance from him.

State did well on the offensive glass a year ago and I think that if there's to be a repeat performance in one area, that's the most likely one. I hope we won't have to lean on second chance points too much, but it's definitely something that could keep the Pack in the game.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Syracuse by 10.

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