1. SYRACUSE CANNOT KEEP GIVING SHOOTERS OPEN LOOKS
The offense was not great, but defense is the major problem. Duke got open looks all game long. Everyone shares some blame there. The wings were getting sucked inside and made little effort to get back out on shooters. Guards did not rotate down when needed at times and left some open shooters at the top of the key as well. It was a poor defensive performance all around. When Syracuse came back against Notre Dame, Buddy Boeheim's shooting got all of the publicity. It was the defense that really sparked the comeback. Eight of Notre Dame's 10 turnovers came in the 10 minute second half stretch where Syracuse erased the 20 point deficit. Syracuse has played strong defense for stretches at times this season, but, more often, there seems to be disinterest on that end of the floor. That has to change even with only two games remaining.
2. NCAA TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK
The loss is a blow to Syracuse's resume. No question. Their NET ranking will drop. It's another missed quad one opportunity. But, all hope is not completely lost believe it or not. Syracuse has another quad one opportunity at Georgia Tech on Saturday. If Syracuse can win that game, beat UNC at home on Monday (who will be really close to a quad one game themselves) and win a game in the ACC Tournament, Syracuse would have a case. In that scenario, they would finish 16-8 (10-7) and have at least one quad one win. Virginia Tech and North Carolina are both close. The Hokies have four remaining games left, three at home. All are games they will be favored to win. If they can pull out all four, that could push their NET into the top 30 and make them a quad one win. North Carolina has games left against Marquette, Florida State and Duke besides their matchup with Syracuse. Each of those three games are at home. If UNC can win each of those, their NET could also push into the top 30. That means Syracuse actually could wind up with three quad one wins. Will that be enough to get them in? It is not over yet.
3. MORE STELLAR PLAY FROM KADARY RICHMOND
Richmond played 30 minutes and started the second half as he put together another strong performance. He was one of the few bright spots for Syracuse in this game. He scored 15 points on 6-11 shooting, dished out three assists and grabbed five rebounds. Richmond even made a three pointer. He got by defenders, got into the lane and finished. I am not getting into the who starts thing with him and Joe Girard. Is a useless exercise at this point and I am not wasting the energy on that discussion. But there is no denying that Richmond deserves more and more minutes over the last few games of the this season. The sky is the limit for this kid.
4. GUERRIER, GRIFFIN NEED TO CLEAN UP THEIR PLAY
Quincy Guerrier was just 3-11 shooting against Duke, seemed to lack physicality and was passive on both ends. Alan Griffin was sloppy with the ball, was just 1-5 from the outside and also missed assignments defensively. Both need to be much more efficient for Syracuse to win games against good teams. They cannot turn the ball over, fail to finish at the rim, and miss defensive assignments. Both are capable. On both ends. Griffin has shown flashes of being really good defensively. The stats are a bit misleading. He finished with three steals and two blocks, but he left too many shooters wide open for easy looks. Both need to be more consistent.
5. BUDDY CONTINUES HOT SHOOTING
Lost in a blowout loss is that Buddy Boeheim continued his recent shooting hot streak. Over the previous five games, Buddy was 16-32 from three point range. He was 5-9 in this one and scored 21 points. Buddy also had four rebounds and four assists. Buddy is now shooting 51.2% from beyond the arc over the last six games. As much as Syracuse needs to clean up other areas, they need Buddy to continue shoot like that. He makes such a difference in offensive spacing, and changes the entire dynamic of the offense when he is shooting well.