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After tying a season-low with 53 points against Pittsburgh on Jan. 25, Syracuse’s offense has exploded, averaging 91.7 points per game over its last three contests. Head coach Jim Boeheim said the Orange’s offense hasn’t changed drastically during the three-game win-streak — they’re just making their shots.
Boeheim reiterated that phrase multiple other times on his weekly ACC call, explaining that SU’s offense is shooting the basketball with more success but that it’s only made minor adjustments. He said the movement is good, and Jesse Edwards’ success inside has helped open up other perimeter shooters for looks.
Over the past two games, all five of Syracuse’s starters have eclipsed double-digit points.
“It’s just making shots,” Boeheim said via Zoom on Monday. “We were shooting OK earlier in the year. Our shooting percentages weren’t bad, but they definitely have been better over the last few games. … We’ve really been shooting at a high level.”
Boeheim said another reason for this offensive spurt, which has come relatively late in SU’s season, is because first-year SU players Cole Swider and Jimmy Boeheim are more familiar with the scheme and system. He included Edwards in that conversation too, who didn’t play significant minutes or start regularly until the start of this season.
“We’re getting similar shots. I think we’re shooting a little bit better,” Boeheim said.
Edwards has been a threat inside and has been particularly successful on pick-and-rolls, Boeheim said. Because the perimeter players like Joe Girard III, Buddy Boeheim and Swider have been shooting well, that means opposing defenses can’t help inside. This opens looks for Edwards, giving him uncontested looks that Boeheim called “unusual,” and ones he didn’t expect to see much more.
“Different teams do it (in) different ways,” Boeheim said. “Some teams will take Jesse away; others, it’s that space there.”
The defensive front has been what’s holding SU back all year. Boeheim said the defense was good for a half in the win over Wake Forest, and had some good spots against Louisville, particularly in the first half. The NC State game didn’t have good defense “in any way, shape or form,” he added.
“Overall, it’s just our defense has to be better for us to be a really good team,” Boeheim said. “We are getting better, but for us to be a really good team, we have to be able to play better defense.”
Here are a few other notes from Boeheim’s conference call:
Boeheim addresses SU’s NCAA Tournament chances
When asked about SU’s NCAA Tournament chances, Boeheim emphasized that he likes to take things one game at a time. Two weeks ago, after SU’s loss at Pittsburgh, he said he was concerned about whether his team could win a singular game.
Now, after SU’s three-game winning streak that bolstered it back over .500 on the season, he said the Orange have improved “a little bit … (but we) still have a ways to go over the last few weeks here.”
“We have to play better defensively, and we’ll continue to play one game at a time and try to see if we can get better,” Boeheim said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Boeheim on Syracuse’s late-season fitness
When a reporter asked if Syracuse’s play-style helped fuel late-season pushes while other teams wore out, Boeheim said, “if anybody should be wearing down, we should.” He was referencing the Orange’s heavy reliance on their starters. Boeheim rarely turns to his bench — Syracuse ranks 356th in Division I in bench minutes, per KenPom. That leaves the same rotation of five starters playing every game, for almost the entire time.
But Boeheim reiterated that Syracuse’s players are in good health. SU will get a week-long break after two road games this week (at Boston College and at Virginia Tech) before it approaches a stretch with three games in five days.
“Our players train for this. They work hard all year long to be able to play big minutes. Our players have always played big minutes,” Boeheim said. “We’ve been playing quite a few games now and they’ve played better each game. So they feel good, they look good to me, they look like they’re ready to go, physical (and) strong.”
The post Boeheim talks Syracuse’s offensive burst, improved shooting in weekly ACC call appeared first on The Daily Orange.