After defeating Wisconsin 64-63 Jim Boeheim said it was one of the greatest games he ever coached in. I think he was right. There were very few turnovers (12 combined), very few fouls (25 combined) and few missed shots (50 misses, for a 49% success rate). It wasn’t marred by bad officiating (though there was one late horrible foul called on Scoop Jardine) and it came down to the end, one final shot. A wonderful game to watch, and even better because Syracuse won it.
And something else rare, I will give Boeheim credit for coaching a great game. On defense the strategy was to pressure the ball to make Wisconsin speed up their passes, which he hoped would lead to turnovers and fast breaks. Syracuse got too aggressive, began over-rotating to the ball and leaving wide-open shooters. Once Wisconsin nailed 6 3s in a row, Boeheim called timeout and he seemed to make an in-game adjustment. The rest of the game they did a better job of staying home and forcing Wisconsin to work really hard. They burned a lot of time, and still not get open shots.
He also had a good strategy on offense, drive to the hoop. Triche and Jardine set this tone early and it was the reason CJ Fair also had a great game (7-9 shooting, compared to 2-17 in the previous 4 games).
They drove to the basket, which had dual effects. It got Berggren and Bruesewitz in early foul trouble. But it also resulted in a lot of easy baskets. Poor outside shooting is often cited as a weakness for SU, and it’s true but only to a point. I think the low 3-point shooting percentage is more likely a product of bad shot selection than limited ability. And especially in games when opponents are bombing 3s, that’s when Scoop, Waiters and Joseph want to answer with 3s of their own. Discretion was the better part of valor as SU hit 5 of 9 from 3, a higher percentage than Wisconsin which made “only” 14 of 27.
But I beg Boeheim, somehow, someway, teach these kids to make free throws. I don’t understand what he is doing wrong, but for years Syracuse has always sucked at free throw shooting and it almost cost them last night when Joseph missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Eerily similar to the 1987 championship game with DC on the line.
Speaking of DC did you see him high-fiving Scoop’s dad?
They talk about the importance of good guard play in the tournament and this was evidence last night. On the first series, Triche drove the ball to the hoop, scored the basket and got fouled. That sent the tone for what SU would do the rest of the game.
I didn’t think I would ever write this sentence: Baye Keita played a great game. He is a non-factor on offense, 4 points is a lot for him, but he held down the middle on defense, though I wish he wouldn’t foul so much. But his biggest contribution was getting rebounds on defense. Wisconsin had only 8 offensive rebounds, and it was not a factor in the game.
But I don’t understand why Boeheim benched Rakeem Christmas. I hope it was just a factor of Keita playing well and not some kind of issue with Rak. I guess he just got himself into foul trouble and Boeheim stuck with Baye.
James Southerland also hardly played but I think that’s because he’s now become a 2-man power forward platoon with CJ Fair. Fair played so well that he played 37 minutes, no time for Southerland.
Wisconsin has one black guy and this is what he looks like? He's got an early-90s high-top fade?
A lot of people are criticizing Bo Ryan for not calling a timeout on the final possession, especially because he didn't get Berggren in the game. I normally like letting the game flow naturally and giving your players the opportunity to make a play. Ryan says he didn't want to waste the extra time needed for a timeout. He also says since they didn't need a 3 he didn't think it was a big deal not to get Berggren in. I also think he didn't want to be left with zero timeouts. What if they couldn't inbound the ball? What if Syracuse was able to trap the ball-handler? People are asking what he was saving his last timeout for. That's what, and that's why Ryan did the correct thing.
It didn't sound that way on TV but all tweets I read from inside the building depicted the crowd as heavily and vociferously pro-Orange.
The long and storied Syracuse career of Scoop Jardine continues for one more game. Great picture of him exultant when the final shot missed, offset by the dejected Wisconsin bench.