If you’ve seen any Syracuse basketball games this year or read anything about the team, you probably already know that these guys really love to push the tempo. So far this year, we’re playing faster basketball than 9 out of 10 teams. And when the transition offense is working, we’re really tough to stop.
Well, tonight’s game should be interesting because UMass is actually one of the 30 or so teams in the land that has played at a quicker tempo than Syracuse through the first few weeks for the season. So don’t be surprised if both teams make a run at 100 points, especially given the inconsistency of SU’s defense thus far.
So am I just going to reference ‘80’s indie rock lyrics, toss out some trivia and leave it at that? Of course not.
I think this game could really go either way, and here’s why:
This game will be a test of how much we really learned from last week’s games in the Garden. The Minutemen haven’t played good interior defense; in fact, they’re allowing their opponents to score on 52% of their twos, putting them in the bottom third of all DI teams in that respect. So if SU’s wannabe sharpshooters can exercise some discipline from long range and draw fouls when they attack the hoop, we’ll all be happy fans tomorrow.
But if Greene, Devendorf and Flynn stand around launching threes all day, it really will be Ohio State redux. That’s largely because UMass does a pretty good job of defending against the trey and has done a decent job of forcing turnovers.
This game is particularly dangerous because if the Orange indulge their bad habits on offense, they’ll be simultaneously playing into UMass’s strengths defensively. But the opposite is also true: The Minutemen have not been very good on the offensive glass so far this year, so assuming the Washington game was an aberration as far as rebounding goes, the Orange should be able to help themselves out on that front. Grabbing a lot of boards plus taking (and making) a lot of twos equals being pretty tough to beat. Let’s hope that equation works out in our favor tonight.
LATER: Looks like Flag We Love! Orange! sees the same things we see. But they include a key nugget I missed: UMass attempted a ridiculous 132 threes over their five games to date. See above on “bad habits,” apply to defense and multiply by 10. I predict another game in which our opponent takes more than 80 shots. Hopefully that doesn’t result in our losing by 150.