Maybe now people will listen to Boeheim and realize his team is overrated. They improved to 4-0 last night by squeaking out a 63-60 win over William & Mary. This is a William & Mary team that lost their first two games by over 20 points.
The numbers show Syracuse hit 22 of 60 shots, shooting under 37% for the game. That's a bad night (worse than any they had last season) but it doesn't even begin to show how poorly the Orange shot. This has to be one of the poorest shooting performances in Syracuse history.
From the perimeter they hit 5 of 22 shots. Boeheim call all 22 "good shots." I have to disagree. Scoop Jardine forced up a couple deep shots in the final few minutes that were unnecessary. But the majority of the three-pointers were open. Nothing was falling.
But their three-point shooting was marvelous compared to their other shots. Practically the only way Syracuse scored was off of layups; the majority being on transition buckets. They made 16 of their 22 layup attempts. Nothing to be proud of but they weren't all the easiest of shots. But here's where the math comes in and you see how awful last night truly was. They made 22 shots. Of those 22, 5 were three-pointers and 16 were layups. That means they had one make that wasn't a deep shot or a layup. And when you take into account the shot attempts of layups and threes, it means aside from that offense they made 1 of 16 of their other shots. Rick Jackson made an 11-footer four minutes into the game and they never hit another mid-range shot.
In what has become a reoccurring theme early in the season, William & Mary's zone killed Syracuse. Their 1-2-2 forced Syracuse to go outside where nothing was falling. Oh yeah, and like I said - nothing was falling inside the three-point line as well. They prevented drives into the lane and allowed the jump shots. Syracuse is going to continue to see teams utilize zone until they can prove a threat with their jumpers.
If the court were a couple inches wider the Orange probably would've lost this game. Two of the Tribe's 20 turnovers were from Quinn McDowell barely stepping out of bounds. The first came with 5:42 remaining when McDowell nailed a deep three but was called out. The second came with about 16 seconds remaining and the Tribe down 62-60. McDowell got Baye Moussa Keita up in the air and looked to drive to the basket but first stepped back and his foot landed out of bounds. But besides these two mistakes, McDowell had a great game. He was tied for a team-high 16 points and hit 4 of 7 three-pointers including a couple very deep ones.
The only thing Syracuse did right last night was protect the ball. They turned it over just 8 times compared to 20 by William & Mary. The last few turnovers proved to be the difference. There was McDowell stepping out and then there was Joseph stealing the ball after he missed the back-end of a one-and-one that gave them a three-point lead. After he stole it, he passed to Moussa Keita who did his best Hakim Warrick impression and put up a shot with just under 5 seconds remaining. I'm referring to when Warrick threw the ball as high as he could with about 5-7 seconds left in an attempt to run out the clock. The ball fell back to the court with time still on the clock but luckily the opponent (if memory serves it was Georgetown) wasn't able to get off a last-second shot. Luckily for Moussa Keita, William & Mary also couldn't get a shot off.
The Orange are off to a 4-0 start but they've done nothing to instill any confidence as the schedule now gets tougher. After the game Boeheim said, "It's not what you win by. It's how you play." They are 4-0 and won their first three games easily but they are not playing well at all. Now they will get their biggest test of the season when they play Michigan on Friday in Atlantic City.
-While a three-point win vs. William & Mary is going to rub Syracuse fans the wrong way, at least there were some great highlights that had been lacking in the first three contests. There were a couple alley-oops to Joseph and Rick Jackson and Waiters had a steal that led to a breakaway dunk.
-Fab Melo played a season-low 12 minutes and Boeheim did not speak kindly of his defensive efforts. He couldn't contain 6'9 center Marcus Kitts and Moussa Keita got the bulk of the playing time.