One more thing jumped out at me from the box scores of the past three kick-ass wins for Syracuse. It’s a pattern of two, so nothing from the Kansas game this time. There are two stat lines that I’m in love with from the last week.
Flynn: 5-7 shooting, 18 points.
Devendorf: 3-3 shooting, 14 points.
Two issues stand out: the efficiency, and the deference. Amazing work by these two.
Imagine being Jonny Flynn going into the Florida game: You’re an emerging superstar with a legit chance to be a first team All-American. You’re the face of your team. A week earlier you had scored 27 points in the first semi-big game of your team’s season. You’re on national TV for the first time this year, against a top 20 opponent with national championship pedigree. This is your moment to shine. And yet, you restrain yourself into taking only 7 shots in 35 minutes of game play.
To me that’s astounding discipline and maturity. Flynn’s team shot 51.7% and put up 89 points, so obviously he was absolutely right in how he fit himself into the offense that day. And most importantly, he was perfectly happy to let 4 other guys take more shots than he did, even though he was on the big stage under the bright lights. Not only that, but he managed to still tie for the team lead in scoring with 18 points, thanks to his high shooting percentage and getting to the line 6 times.
Devo’s stat line against Virginia is even more impressive from a statistical standpoint. 14 points on 3 shots is nuts. He also played fully 39 minutes in that game — meaning only one official shot every 13 minutes. Who would’ve thought Devendorf capable of that kind of restraint? Especially in a hard-fought, intense game that remains close throughout. He didn’t attempt a single three pointer! He never succumbed to the temptation to try to take over the game or lead the team back on his own. Instead he stayed in the offense and allowed the team as a whole to follow the path to victory that Virginia left open for them. Granted, Devo did launch more than three shots, but the several other times the ball left his hand all involved drawing fouls on drives to the basket — exactly when he’s at his best.
These two statlines are the prototype for a balanced, multifaceted offensive attack. Balance doesn’t necessarily mean that in every game each player contributes an equal amount. It means that on any given night a different player can step up and dominate, and the opposition has no way of knowing who it’s going to be. It’s a great sign that our two biggest scoring stars have no problem letting their teammates get more shots when that’s what the game calls for.