Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 15, 2015 at 7:24 pm In 10 games, Syracuse has shot the lights out and shot itself in the foot. It’s struggled to rebound against mid-major opponents then been sturdier in the paint against Power-Five frontcourts. It was a Top 25 team after the Battle 4 Atlantis and then anything but in Madison Square Garden on Sunday.And inside of its mercurial start is a big-picture problem that looks hard to fix. One that, uncharacteristic of the young season, has stretched across two recent games.As Syracuse.com’s Mike Waters noted Tuesday, Syracuse has trailed by eight or more points in the first half of six of its 10 games this season. This was a key factor in the Orange’s last two losses — on the road at Georgetown and St. John’s, respectively — in which the Hoyas and Red Storm jumped out to early leads that held to the finish. And while SU shot itself out of both these games, going a combined 6-for-26 from 3 in the two second halves, there’s a more troubling trend at hand.Naturally, Syracuse’s (7-3) first-half deficits turn into second-half deficits. Georgetown built its biggest lead of the game, 21 points, with 16:12 remaining. St. John’s’, 13, came with 7:29 on the game clock. This has forced the Orange to use its most effective offensive lineup, which is smaller and does not include starting center Dajuan Coleman, down the stretch. That group is supposed to space the floor, get in transition, force turnovers with an extended 2-3 zone and, ultimately, score enough to forge a comeback.But that group also struggles mightily to defend the paint, leaving Syracuse without a late-game lineup that can both score and stop opponents.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“If we weren’t digging ourselves in deficits, maybe we could play a little bit bigger,” SU interim head coach Mike Hopkins said after the loss to the Red Storm, whose 44 second-half points were the most an Orange opponent has scored in a half this season.“But when we’re down, we have to score and our best lineup is going to be in the game.” Sam Maller | Staff PhotographerSam Maller | Staff PhotographerThe “best lineup” Hopkins is referring to pairs 6-foot-8 freshman Tyler Lydon and 6-foot-8 junior Tyler Roberson in SU’s frontcourt, with Lydon as the undersized center. Coleman played nine minutes in the second half against Georgetown and just five minutes in the second half against St. John’s. That means Lydon has played 26 minutes of center in the two second halves, which were the two best offensive frames for SU opponents this season.The high second-half outputs — 43 points for the Hoyas and 44 for the Red Storm — came after Syracuse trailed by 12 and nine points, respectively. Georgetown was fueled by 13 second-half points by 6-foot-11 center Bradley Hayes, who shot 5-of-8 from the field and 3-for-5 from the line in the last 20 minutes. St. John’s made an electric 7-of-11 3s in the second half, but that started with 6-foot-7 forward Kassoum Yakwe spacing the defense with 11 points inside the arc.Yakwe, working out of the high post, attacked Lydon and Roberson at the rim and went 3-for-7 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free-throw line. In the first half, SU played off the Red Storm’s bigs in the high post and focused on defending the perimeter. That was somewhat effective until…“… they started attacking out of there, and (Christian) Jones and Yakwe did a good job of attacking,” Hopkins said. “That’s where our size differential, with Tyler Lydon and Dajuan…”Then Hopkins ditched that thought and said Syracuse could play bigger if it weren’t playing from behind. Because if it trails in the second half in Atlantic Coast Conference play, which is now three games away, the Orange doesn’t have a lineup balanced enough to comeback against talented teams.Hell, it doesn’t currently have a lineup balanced enough to come back against a St. John’s team that lost to Fordham by 16 and beat Niagara 48-44 four days before SU visited.You can say what you want about Syracuse’s late-game shooting, because it has been bad.But the Orange’s height can’t break out of a slump. It just is what it is.Jesse Dougherty is the Web Editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at email@example.com or @dougherty_jesse. Comments Related Stories What we learned from Syracuse’s loss to St. John’sSyracuse misses too many shots in upset loss to St. John’s
In what will undoubtedly be an emotional night for players, coaches and fans alike, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (20-9, 12-6 Big Ten) will play one last home game Thursday night against the Iowa Hawkeyes (21-8, 10-8). It will also be the last time Badger fans will get to see Ethan Happ, Khalil Iverson and Charlie Thomas share the floor at the Kohl Center. Together, these three have been through just about everything a college basketball player could expect to go through. Each played their first year at Wisconsin during a time of change, but were still able to reach the Sweet Sixteen in both 2016 and 2017. Happ has been around even longer. As a redshirt freshman under Bo Ryan during his first season, Happ faced the likes of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker day-in and day-out in practice and was there for the monumental Final Four win over Kentucky.But, despite all their wins, the group experienced struggles under a host of young players last season, finishing just 15-18 on the year. Throughout last year, the team was brought together under a collective goal to bounce back better than ever in 2019 — thereby making Happ, Iverson and Thomas’ last season a special one.Men’s basketball: Brevin Pritzl may be Wisconsin’s secret weapon this postseasonBrevin Pritzl was born and raised here in Wisconsin. Playing basketball at De Pere High School — just outside of Read…When asked about his biggest takeaway from his legendary UW career, Happ was quick to answer that was the relationships he built with his teammates. “I’ve been lucky to have spent five years with really good people. And because of my experience with guys like Nigel Hayes, Vitto Brown and Frank, I know the relationships will go way beyond Badger basketball,” Happ said.Those friendships have obviously been paying dividends this season, as Wisconsin has made a 180 flip since last year and seems primed to make a deep postseason run. Before they can do that, however, they’ll have to go through an Iowa team who will be a change of pace from what Wisconsin has seen lately. Between the matchups with Northwestern, Indiana and Penn State, Happ and Nate Reuvers didn’t have too many big bodies to battle with down low. But Iowa is very different from those small ball clubs. Boasting both Tyler Cook — 6-foot-9, 253 pounds — and Luka Garza—6-foot-11, 245 pounds — as their best players, Iowa has some size. Cook, a 2018 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention nominee, is coming into Thursday night’s matchup averaging 15.8 points and 8.1 rebounds a game and very well could cause problems for Reuvers down low. Meanwhile, Garza — a sophomore averaging 12.8 points and 4.6 rebounds — could throw a wrench in what Wisconsin has been able to do against other smaller teams.Basketball: UW students share stories of pick-up culture at The Shell“Slide Shell” has become common among campus vernacular at the University of Wisconsin, especially for those who share a love Read…Because of his height, Garza should be able to hold his own down low against Happ, which will likely allow the Hawkeyes to bring fewer double teams and stay tight on Wisconsin shooters.This could take away some open looks for Badger guards such as Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice, but neither of the two appear worried about any changes in the game plan. “We try not to change too much, and want to keep playing inside-out, Wisconsin basketball,” Davison said. “We’re always working on getting it to Ethan and letting him get his man in foul trouble to help open up more opportunities for everyone.”Happ has been one of the focal points of the Wisconsin basketball program ever since he started getting consistent minutes, so look for Gard to feed his big man on Senior Night. Also, watch out for Iverson and Thomas to get big-time minutes over their younger counterparts, as they have been just as important to this program as anyone else.You can catch the game live Thursday night at 6 p.m. on ESPN, or listen to it on 100.9, Badger Sports Network.