Thursday, November 19, 2009
Syracuse - Cal Observations
The good news for Syracuse basketball fans, if the NCAA tournament started next week, this Orange team would be very, very dangerous. The bad news, next week is Thanksgiving. This is the only time on the blog I will ever use the words "Thanksgiving" and "bad" in the same sentence. That's a promise.
After a football season filled with injuries, defections, and disappointment, it has been an absolute pleasure to watch the first three games of the Syracuse basketball season. In tonight's 95-73 route of the Cal Bears, the Orange show cased qualities that could make them a dangerous team all year long. Namely, they displayed an active, trapping defense, excellent passing and versatility and balance on the offensive end of the floor. Oh yeah, and a guy named Scoop Jardine reminded us of why he was so highly recruited coming out of high school. He was fantastic tonight.
Here are a few quick observations:
One of my main beefs with Arinze Onuaku's game was that he didn't make quick decisions in the post. Tonight, he made quick decisions - and his team mates found him. He was efficient as hell.
Unlike earlier games this year, SU took care of the basketball, finishing the night with 11 turnovers -- while forcing 15.
Likewise, the team had 21 assists, paced by Scoop Jardine's 6. What people might not notice, Rick Jackson had 4 assists as well. Big Rick has always been a good passer in the high post, he showed that again tonight. When you've got a big man that can pass the ball out of the high post, EVERYONE gets better shots.
Obviously the story of the night was Scoop Jardine who came off the bench to score 22 points. He also added 6 assists and 4 steals and was very active on defense.
Likewise, Brandon Triche did some nice things when he was on the floor. I especially liked the way he used his strength to get to rim, and did so under control. It will be interesting to see how Triche and Jardine handle Carolina's pressure Friday night.
Speaking of the point guards. Andy Katz has a great piece on them here.
I loved how SU extended the zone to beyond the 3 point line to find Cal shooters. They can do this for a few reasons - they are big enough and long enough to cover large areas of the court, they are in good shape and can cover ground quickly, and the team is busting its collective ass on the defensive end.
Andy Rautins makes a huge difference at the top of the zone versus when Devendorf was there last year. Devo was as interested in defense as Mark Mangino is in salad.
It was only the third game of the year, but after a trying few weeks, it sure was fun. Looking forward to the match up with North Carolina Friday night. It will be a blast.