Is this thing on?
I wrote the following to conclude my recap of the win over Miami:
…Miami’s shrewd strategy of continually making 28-foot three-pointers ultimately proved untenable. They are approximately the eighth team to try that strategy against Syracuse this year, and so far all have failed. Evidently it’s tough to keep up that pace for an entire game….
You can now add Virginia Tech to the list of bomb-tossers. Seriously. How many games are we going to have to watch where the opposing team makes multiple 30-foot shots in the first five minutes? It just delays the inevitable, and makes the other guys think they might have a chance, when they really… actually… don’t. The funny part is, Tech was somewhat successful when they were able to get the ball inside. Their big men had decent hands and made a few nice interior passes. But the operative phrase there is “a few”. Even with the SU zone defense extended way out on the perimeter to challenge the shooters, the Hokies just couldn’t reliably get the ball in close to the basket. They were regularly too hesitant, too unsure of their next move — and if you wait for that half-second, the defense will be reset and you’re stuck launching deep threes with the shot clock running down. (PS. My favorite play of the night was when VT was inbounding the ball with three seconds on the shot clock and threw it out to midcourt, resulting in a 50-foot heave. You don’t have a play you can at least try to run in that situation?)
Props in this space to the usual suspects, but also to Tyler Roberson, who played nice minutes in the first half while the game was still close. He contributed on offense and on the boards, but perhaps most importantly he did a solid job on defense. Nothing will get a freshman (or anyone for that matter) yanked by Boeheim faster than a lapse in defensive rotation. I watched Roberson in particular on D to see how he was coming along, and he did great. Closed out on the high wing on ball reversal, dropped into the paint when the center stepped up, even helped trap a guy in the low corner. Not to get too ahead of ourselves, but his season so far reminds me of Jerami Grant’s season last year. Not a lot of minutes in the important early games, because he is learning the college game and the SU system in particular, but the coach starts to trust him a little more as he improves. For Grant, he was thrust into a bigger role by necessity when James Southerland got suspended, and he shone at times. Let’s hope that Roberson doesn’t get thrust into any such situation, but that he keeps developing his game along a similar arc. There are going to be plenty of frontcourt minutes available next year, and though he may not start as a sophomore, Roberson is establishing himself as the early favorite to slide into that sixth-man forward role that Grant is playing this year. (See also: James Southerland, CJ Fair, Kris Joseph, et al.)