The Syracuse Orange took on the Colgate Raiders in front of 21,000 inside of the Carrier Dome on Saturday in a 72-58 win. The Orange were able to get their eighth win this season in what was really a subpar effort that had it’s bright spots as well as it’s low points. Here are my five important takeaways from the game:
Tyus Battle is really good at basketball
We’ve known that Tyus Battle is good for a long time now, but he just continues to impress every game. There was a point in the second half where the Orange were only ahead by single digits and then Battle took over and demanded the ball and scored his team’s next seven points to increase their lead and show that he can score at will. Battle ended up with 24 points in this one and made it look easy. If battle keeps up this level of play all year there is no way that he doesn’t test the NBA waters this summer.
Frank Howard’s scoring has masked that fact that his old habits are still there
Frank Howard has been a consistent scoring option for the Orange this year and that has led people to believe that he has taken the next step in his development, but when you look at his turnover numbers you can see that he is still making mistakes. Against Kansas, Howard got into foul trouble early and forced Boeheim to have to go to bench only a few days after primary backup, Geno Thorpe left the program. Then in the next game against UCONN, Howard shot 1-10 from the field and finished with 5 points and 9 turnovers. If not for Matthew Moyer’s breakout performance there is a chance we’re talking about Howard being the reason that the Orange lose that game. Then the Orange took on Colgate, and Howard finished with 18 points, but again the turnover bug bit him as he turned the ball over 5 times. Howard is clearly a better scorer so far this year, but he has to cut down the turnovers moving forward to insure Syracuse’s success.
Oshae Brissett is better than advertised
Orange fans had high hopes and great expectations for Brissett coming into this season, and it’s safe to say that Brissett has lived up to – and possibly exceeded – expectations thus far. On Saturday, Brissett finished with 20 points and looked like a man among boys. Granted this was only a game against Colgate, but he looked like he was in complete control from start to finsish of this one. Colgate had no answer for him and if Syracuse needed a bucket, it was either Battle or Brissett that they relied on to score for them.
Howard Washington needs more minutes
Since the departure of Geno Thorpe, Washington has been thrust into the role of primary backup guard for the Orange. In Thorpe’s absence, Washington has only played 14 minutes in three games, but he has played well. In the game against Kansas, Washington played eight minutes and showed he has the poise and confidence needed to lead an offense. Against UCONN, Washington only logged one minute, so it’s impossible to make a real observation from that game. Saturday, Washington only played five minutes, but did hit a three-pointer and we were able to see him on the floor in a three guard lineup. Washington is young, so I understand why Boeheim may be hesitant to give him a lot of minutes leading the offense, but if Howard is struggling with turnovers, or just needs a break, Washington has proven he’s capable of more than just five minutes off of the bench. You can even see on the bench that Washington is constantly yelling to his teammates like a coach and telling them where to go, proving that he has a grasp of the Syracuse system.
If Bourama Sidibe’s knee tendonitis is worse than we think, Syracuse may struggle defensively
Bourama Sidibe did not log any minutes on Saturday as he is still nursing nagging knee tendonitis. The Orange didn’t need Sidibe in this one, so that could be why they didn’t send the big man out there, but if he has to miss significant time then the Orange may have some trouble on defense. To give Chukwu a rest on Saturday, Boeheim utilized a lineup that featured Washington, Howard, Battle, Brissett and Marek Dolezaj. Dolezaj was forced to play the center of the zone in this lineup, and while Dolezaj is good player who is always in the right spot, he is not built for the center of the Syracuse zone. Along with that, it forces Battle to have to play in the back line of the 2-3 zone instead of up top where he thrives. Players notice the difference defensively as well, Frank Howard had this to say about the lineup “It’s putting Tyus in a tough spot on the defensive end.” When using that lineup on Saturday, the Orange out scored Colgate, but were also out rebounded. Colgate is a small team, so if they were able to out rebound the Orange with that lineup, it is not a good look going forward.
The Orange have the week off for finals week and then they head to the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. next Saturday to take on their hated rival, the Georgetown Hoyas.