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Seven Takeaways: Syracuse 63 Florida State 60

What to make of the Orange's win over the Seminoles.

Syracuse basketball beat Florida State 63-60 on Saturday to snap the Seminoles 25 game home conference winning streak. Here are my takeaways from the game. 

1. Syracuse Won the Type of Game People Did Not Think They Could

The big weaknesses for Syracuse basketball this season include ball handling against pressure defenses, rebounding and defending. Florida State is an aggressive, pressure defensive team, rebounds well and shoots the ball well (36% from three coming in to the game against Syracuse). On paper, it seemed like a bad matchup for the Orange. And yet, the were able to find a way to win. Syracuse largely took care of the basketball and handled Florida State's pressure. Syracuse outrebounded Florida State. Syracuse held Florida State to 4-30 (13%) shooting from three point range. The exact type of game Syracuse is not supposed to be able to win, they won. The team showed toughness and grit to pull it out. There were still plenty of mistakes, and this game probably should have been a bit easier than the three point margin without some mistakes, but it should be encouraging to Syracuse fans that they won considering how they won and who they beat. 

2. Swider Needs to Play Confident Basketball

I thought one of the biggest issues with Cole Swider was being hesitant. When he shot confidently in the second half without hesitation, he hit some critical three pointers. One that put Syracuse up 10 and another that pushed the lead back to nine after Florida State started to get momentum. That's the Cole Swider Syracuse needs. Whenever he gets an opening, shoot. He is such a different player when he is confident and aggressive as opposed to passive and hesitant. 

3. Torrence Makes an Impact

Symir Torrence may not have scored, but he had a significant impact on the game in just 12 minutes. He dished out five assists with just one turnover and had a steal. Torrence was strong defensively and is playing with more and more confidence. You can see it in the way he plays that he is becoming more comfortable with his role and with Syracuse's schemes. Being able to give Syracuse 10-15 minutes off the bench is important. Encouraging signs from him. 

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4. Patience Needed with Benny

Benny Williams really struggled again. He played only two minutes, missed an open three and did not grab a rebound. He may not be ready quite yet, but I know he is working extremely hard behind the scenes. Jim Boeheim has eluded to that fact on several occasions. Sometimes it takes players longer to be ready to contribute, even if they are highly regarded recruits. He will be a contributor by the end of the season. Patience. 

5. We Need to Acknowledge Two Things

After this game I think there are two things we need to acknowledge. First, Joe Girard is a good player. He has his flaws, certainly, but he is a good player. Another strong game from Joe with 16 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals with some important made shots in this game as well against the type of team that is supposed to give him problems. On the season, Girard is averaging 15 points, 4.4 assists, three rebounds, 1.3 steals per game while shooting 53% from beyond the arc and over 90% from the free throw line. Second, Syracuse has guys who can drive. Sometimes being able to take a guy off the bounce is not just about pure speed. It is about angles, changing speeds or direction and having a knack for getting in the lane. Buddy and Jimmy have both shown the ability to do with, with Joe to a lesser extent. They are never going to be an elite dribble drive team, but they have players capable. 

6. The Zone

Syracuse shifting its zone from a 2-3 to a 1-1-3 (or 1-3-1, whatever you want to call it) has made an enormous difference. Syracuse switching back and forth between the two has helped as well. For as much flack as Jim Boeheim gets for being stubborn and unwilling to change, he deserves credit for implement that new wrinkle to the zone, which he had never used in 46 years previously. 

7. The Demise of Syracuse Basketball Was Greatly Exaggerated

It was easy to panic after Syracuse lost to Colgate and VCU. However, quitting on Jim Boeheim and Syracuse basketball is an exercise in futility. No Syracuse basketball is not going to be a bad team that loses more than it wins. Will Syracuse make the NCAA Tournament? Will it have a decent seed and/or make a run? I have no idea. This team certainly has its strengths and its faults. But I do know that this team continues to improve and that with Jim Boeheim as the head coach, you should never count an Orange squad out. Especially after losses in November.