by Dan Gardella
Brooklyn – Though they boast the phrase “We are New York’s Team”, Syracuse did not perform as advertised in the Big Apple over the Thanksgiving Holiday.
After their 85-64 loss against the Penn State Nittany Lions Friday, the Orange fell to 4-3 overall and leave the Barclays Center with consecutive losses and struck out on another preseason tournament. On Wednesday night’s loss to Oklahoma State the downfall was the lack of defense and never getting into a flow offensively. Tonight, the Orange were out-rebounded by 29.
Syracuse finished with 28 total team rebounds. The Nittany Lions grabbed 23 offensive rebounds, led by Mike Watkins grabbing 11 himself. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim pinpoints a performance like the one on Friday to lack of production from the Orange forwards.
“The rebounding was obviously the biggest part of the game,” said Boeheim. “We can’t play like that. Bourama [Sidibe] has to be able to contribute out there more. Rebounding is going to get the ball. We need to do a better job of that.”
Sidibe, Syracuse’s starting center Friday night, struggled to stay on the court. The big man only played 16 minutes, and contributed just two points and five rebounds.
With Sidibe battling foul trouble, it opened up minutes for Quincy Guerrier. The freshman received extended run on the court and put together his first collegiate double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Boeheim acknowledged his activity on both sides of the court, but explained how the forward can build upon a game like this, specifically on the defensive end.
“He did well rebounding, but he gave up four threes,” said Boeheim. “He just doesn’t understand our defense yet. He does rebound the ball. I thought he got the ball inside three or four times and came up with nothing.”
Along with Guerrier, the young backcourt of freshman Joseph Girard III and sophomore Buddy Boeheim continued to struggle in certain spots on the court.
Overall, Boeheim stated that there is still plenty of work to be done on both sides of the ball. It makes things especially difficult when working with a young, inexperienced core who has a tough schedule ahead of them.
“We just have to keep playing,” said Boeheim. “It’s not a good year to have a good overall schedule, but that’s just the way the scheduling worked out. We obviously didn’t play well at home the first couple of games.”
The Orange host Iowa in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on December 3.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
33 – The overall shooting percentage by the Orange between both games at the NIT Season Tip-Off (37-110). The backcourt of Girard and Boeheim combined to shoot 11-47 in the two games. Boeheim said he liked the shots his team was getting, but they were shots that needed to be converted, once again singling out his forwards inside.
68 – The overall free throw percentage for Syracuse over the two games. The Orange left 22 points at the charity stripe in the two losses.
73 – The total amount of minutes played by Elijah Hughes in two games. Boeheim stated that out of the core of his team, Hughes was the constant from last season’s rotation. He also said Hughes was thrown “In the fire” last season, which has made him a player that Boeheim will rely on as the season progresses.
1,463 – The amount of days it has been between victories in preseason tournaments for Syracuse. Their last win in a preseason tournament came on November 27, 2015, when the Orange beat Texas A&M to win the 2015 Battle 4 Atlantis. Over the past two seasons, Syracuse has lost four games in preseason tournaments (Two in last season’s 2K Classic, and two this season in the NIT Season-Tip Off).