Blog Entry

SU will benefit if it addresses its flaws now

Posted on: February 10, 2011 12:05 am
Edited on: February 10, 2011 12:23 am

Posted by Matt Norlander

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Rick Jackson doesn’t want to talk about or acknowledge Syracuse’s flaws.

“I don’t know. You’re going to have to tell me,” Jackson said after the Orange’s 64-56 home loss to Georgetown Wednesday night. “I can’t point out our flaws and what we need to work on. You can decide that.”

In a minute.

“That’s as good a defensive game as we’ve played this year,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. That could be worrisome for Orange fans. It wasn’t a standout defensive game, really. Georgetown shot better than 50 percent from the floor effectively (53.8) and turned it over on 22 percent of its possessions (SU got careless 24 percent of the time). Eighty-three percent of the Hoyas’ baskets came off of assists, which is what the Georgetown offense is designed to do.

Plainly: Syracuse, big-picture, may have slowed the Hoyas a bit, but the Orange didn’t make their opponent alter from its game plan.

It had been nine years since Georgetown won in the Salt City, though that statistic’s a little misleading, as the Hoyas and Orange haven’t played in each other’s gym every year since the Big East expanded to 16 teams. The primary reason John Thompson III got his first win in the Carrier Dome was due to the switch Georgetown flicked up down in the final portion of the ball game. The Hoyas took advantage of an absent-minded Syracuse defense in the last eighth of the game, finishing off the Orange with a 15-3 run in the final 5:37 to win 64-56.

SU guard Brandon Triche said Georgetown didn’t surprise he or his teammates at all. That’s why they were most frustrated in leaving with an L.

“It’s tough to lose, and it’s even tougher to lose when you know what they’re going to do,” Triche said, following up his statement by saying the team has become one that sees its play embellished when it has the confidence to match.

“I think our confidence was high, and it’s gotten a little bit lower,” Triche said. “We’re a team whose guys are built on confidence. When it goes down, we’re a different team. I don’t think it’s any [other] type of flaws. Defensively, the last couple of games, we’ve actually been improving and being more active.”

There were times when the Orange appeared to lack urgency and got fooled by Georgetown’s collective court-seeing ability. It was an aberration to Syracuse’s defensive behavior from earlier in the game, but of course it came at the wrong time. Losing a sense of urgency and spacing on the floor isn’t a good sign.

“We had opportunities to score — a lot of them — but we missed layups, and it just didn’t go in,” Scoop Jardine (right) said. “We had the game won, and it hurts to lose tough ones like this at home.”

So let’s get to those flaws. Every single team has them. Which are Syracuse’s? Well, let’s start by stating: Syracuse is a strong, competent squad with a ceiling that hovers somewhere between the Elite Eight and the Final Four and a floor that could be losing in the first round as a 7-, 8- or 9-seed. It’s the Orange’s lack of offense in a big spot that’s truly concerning. It wasn’t there tonight, and with no premier, make-it-happen-in-a-big-spot point guard and a lack of a true, consistent deep threat, it’s destined to happen again.

“We just had a great offensive game last week. We had a bad one tonight. I don’t understand that (question),” Boeheim said when a reporter asked if Syracuse was beyond a point of improving its offense this year. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to have a bad one tomorrow.”

Boeheim is right. Such crippling droughts — I mean, just 56 points at home? — haven’t been abundant this year. But down the road, when it happens again, are there enough components for the Orange to overcome a really bad shooting night?

“This was a great defensive effort against a very good offensive team, but we’ve just gotta score points,” Boeheim said. “The main difference between this year and last year, you know, I think we’re as good defensively, but we can’t score enough. … Certainly that’s going to catch up to you.”

It absolutely will. Georgetown hit six 3s in the first half, which allowed the Hoyas to keep pace with Syracuse, then have an opportunity to kill their bitter rival with backdoor passes and opportunistic rebounding. The former is a familiar Hoyas trait. The latter? Unh-uh. By game’s end, the 14 Orange turnovers, 39-percent shooting and Georgetown’s 45-percent offensive rebounding percentage seemed to be the catalysts for the outcome.

“The games that we’ve struggled in, we’ve shot less than 40 percent and less than 30 percent from the 3,” Boeheim said.

Those games are fresh in the team's mind, as Syracuse has dropped five of its past seven after an 18-0 start that some were skeptical about due to the relatively weak nature of the schedule, inflated by the fact Syracuse didn’t leave New York to play a game until Jan. 8 against Seton Hall.

One thing we saw in Syracuse Wednesday night: a hand-tied Rick Jackson. The Orange forward got into foul trouble for the first time this season in a big game, drawing his fourth whistle with 14:40 to go in the second half, prompting Boeheim to play freshmen Baye Moussa Keita, C.J. Fair and Dion Waiters.

Jackson admitted the quick triggers from the officials impacted his play.

“How you usually play, and the refs call flop after flop, of the ball fouls and things like that, it takes the physical play away from you,” Jackson said. “You don’t know what you can do out there. … It kind of makes you timid.”

In fact, Boeheim and most of his players said they weren’t happy with Georgetown drawing charges that seemed like flops. Syracuse players are pretty convinced it got a bad trio officials that weren’t the typical Big East, let-them-play-rough crew.

“It wasn’t defensive fouls; it was our offensive fouls,” Jardine said. “I think they was flopping on them a couple of times and he (Jackson) just got the bad end of it tonight. … Arinze (Onuaku) went through the same thing. It’s like that for big men when they’re as productive as they’ve been.”

Said Boeheim, “They looked like flops to me.”

Jackson’s foul problems will likely be the exception to the rule. And even when he left the game, Syracuse took the lead in his absence.

Look back on its season so far, and what was the game that stands out more than any other for this team? The Dec. 7 win against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden, right? And that’s rotted away with each passing week. (To be fair, the New Year’s Day win at home over Notre Dame is looking very good, as the Irish are on a six-game tear, going to 20-4 Wednesday night with an overtime home win against Louisville.)

Syracuse can and will continue to beat up on teams that won’t sniff the NCAAs, even most likely snagging wins against strong competition. The zone’s not going to duct tape the kitchen pipes when the water’s bursting through later on this season against teams that will play better, on a neutral floor, than Georgetown did tonight.

“I’m not worried,” Jardine said.

If Syracuse players don’t address their worries and flaws soon, the team may become a shell of what it was in December, when it was undefeated and considered a national-title contender.

Photos: AP

Since: Mar 7, 2010
Posted on: February 11, 2011 12:01 am

SU will benefit if it addresses its flaws now

In the BE, you can't change much in mid stream.  But what JB could do is look at when this team peaked this year.  For me, it was around the start of BE play.  Wins over Notre Dame, St John's, and Cincinnatti coming off the OOC schedule.  James Southerland was a huge part of that.  He is a natural shooter and could break this trend of bad outings.  JB would have to move some guys around which he is very reluctant to do, but something has to change or the Orange will be in trouble come March.

Since: Jan 14, 2008
Posted on: February 10, 2011 11:06 pm

SU will benefit if it addresses its flaws now

mikey, shut the f up. when you get a job coaching an elite program, then you can suggest yelling in the players faces, til then, you watch your mouth, little boy! remember when jb constantly rode harris, that worked well didnt it? what this team needs is a player like gmac, or flynn or rautins or wallace or a guy ready to fire up the team, and take the game over with good decisions, not someone who will take his sweet time to jack up horrible shots, like scoop. dion is in the wings, and i wouldnt be surprised to see him start to get alot of playing time soon, along with baye and fair.

Since: Mar 19, 2007
Posted on: February 10, 2011 8:58 pm

SU will benefit if it addresses its flaws now

i think its funny syracuse fans cry about flopping when all they do is play zone defense. try playing some MAN to man defense before you cry about a team not playing like a man.

I don't get what you're saying.  Is an active zone less 'manly' than playing the traditional man-to-man?  Even if that's what you believe, what does that have to do with flopping?  You can flop while playing man or zone defense.

oh well, here's my opinion:  It is frustrating to see floppers get rewarded with calls (EVEN if there may have been contact from the offensive player).  Enhancing or embelishing your "fall" is an effort to trick the officials.  Seeing a 6-8 275 pound man dive backwards and slide 8 feet should NEVER get the call even if his feet were set.  Floppers should be punished, not rewarded.  This is why I hate Manu Ginobli.

Since: Sep 20, 2009
Posted on: February 10, 2011 7:03 pm

SU will benefit if it addresses its flaws now

actually GT shot 53.8% from the foul line......not the field.....Im not sure what "effectively" means in the sense the writer meant it....but where I come from shooting under 54% from the line is far from effective......good win for the Hoyas....not so good for the Orange.....another brilliant piece of journalism.....good heavens....

Since: Jan 24, 2011
Posted on: February 10, 2011 5:20 pm

SU will benefit if it addresses its flaws now

Since: Jan 31, 2007
Posted on: February 10, 2011 5:13 pm

SU will benefit if it addresses its flaws now

i think its funny syracuse fans cry about flopping when all they do is play zone defense. try playing some MAN to man defense before you cry about a team not playing like a man.

Since: Mar 11, 2009
Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:40 pm

SU will benefit if it addresses its flaws now

Since: Sep 11, 2007
Posted on: February 10, 2011 1:29 pm

SU will benefit if it addresses its flaws now

Amen!  There was so much flopping going on, I thought perhaps I was watching an ACC game.

Since: Mar 17, 2008
Posted on: February 10, 2011 11:27 am

SU will benefit if it addresses its flaws now

In what universe is Syracuse an Elite 8 level team, let alone Final Four? They have looked horrible lately, and the fact is it's a pretty thin team. Jackson is a workhorse inside, but he's not going to beat anybody by himself. After him, who scares opponents? Kris Joseph? Please. This is not one of Jimmy B's better Syracuse teams - he's doing it with smoke and mirrors this season.

Since: Sep 28, 2008
Posted on: February 10, 2011 11:18 am

SU will benefit if it addresses its flaws now

Where's the heart and control of this team?  Boeheim has no control, and the team has no heart.

The team is lazy because that's the way Boeheim makes it. He game plans are for players to sit laid back on defense and wait for somebody to come to them, and do an occasional rotation when the ball gets passed around.

His practices are laid back. Mike Hopkins is the one that tries to push the players during practices.

The players don't correct their mistakes because Jim Boeheim either talks to the player very calmly after he gets on the bench after making a mistake on the court, or doesn't talk to him at all.  Players won't have the urgency if the coach lacks it.  You have to get into the players faces and yell at them. Look at Fab Melo, he's more unmotivated than a grandma out there on the basketball court.  If he were my player, he'd be getting a face full of screaming words every game he didn't contribute, and after a month or so, he still didn't contribute, he would just stop playing all together.

Simple concept... if the coach lacks the ability to motivate, and lacks intensity to win... then so do the players.

Maybe a 67 year old is just simply too old to coach a team.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or