Men's Basketball

Observations from SU vs. Colgate: Lots of 3s, struggles at forward spot

Max Mimaroglu | Staff Photographer

Syracuse lost to Colgate for the first time since 1962.

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No one from Colgate crashed toward the paint for a rebound when Jeff Woodward shot his final free throw with just over 13 minutes remaining in the second half. Jesse Edwards and Jimmy Boeheim held the lowest slots for Syracuse, and they both positioned themselves for the ball as it bounced off the rim and into the air. 

But as Edwards tried to secure the rebound, Jimmy’s arm got locked inside Edwards’. Neither of them corralled the bobbling ball, and it bounced out of bounds as Edwards shook his head. The Raiders couldn’t capitalize on the extra opportunity, but with the new sequence, the Orange’s deficit had a chance to stretch into double-digits — a mark they reached just moments later — after holding a 17-point lead early in the first half.

When Syracuse threatened to turn its last tune-up game before the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament into a blowout, and when Colgate couldn’t seem to make a 3-pointer from any spot on the field, everything flipped. The Orange faced their first halftime deficit of the season and couldn’t recover. At the end of Saturday’s game, the Raiders earned their first victory over SU since 1962 with a 100-85 victory.

Here are some observations from Syracuse’s loss:

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3-pointers

The Orange’s early 22-5 lead was built largely on Colgate’s inability to connect on 3-pointers ahead of the first timeout. Jack Ferguson took six, but he missed all of them. The Raiders took four others and missed those, too.

But from that point, to close the final 15 minutes of the first half, the Raiders connected on 11-of-18 against Syracuse’s zone. They continually cycled the ball and found pockets of space, sometimes launching shots from well beyond the arc, making those anyway. For the game, Colgate attempted 43 shots from beyond the arc and made 18 of them.

Outputs like that from beyond the arc had surfaced last season for Colgate — they shot 40.3% on 3-pointers, though that was a limited sample size with just 16 conference games — but it hadn’t defined its first four games this year. The Raiders ranked 205th nationally with a 31.3% conversion rate, and no one with more than 20 attempts shot a greater clip than 24%.

Five Colgate players attempted at least 11 shots from beyond the arc, while Ferguson and Nelly Cummings both made six each.

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Yes, Girard does miss, but not often

Girard’s first miss on a 3-pointer this season came on a deflected shot in the first half, and he missed two others throughout the game. But he still finished with a team-high 27 points on 8-for-14 shooting — including going 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. He and Edwards both entered Saturday’s game without a miss on 3-pointers and 2-pointers, respectively, both ranking first nationally in those KenPom categories.

As Colgate threatened to pull away in the second half, Girard was the SU player who continually kept the Orange in it when they needed shots and points, and lots of them, to keep pace with the incessant 3-pointers that the Raiders fired up. 

When Oliver Lynch-Daniels converted on a 3-pointer in the second half, right after Girard hit another long shot to keep the Orange in the game, Girard responded at the other end.

Controlling the offensive boards

Ferguson had started Colgate’s possession with just over two minutes left in the first half on a missed 3-pointer, but Edwards and Jimmy got tangled up underneath the basket and knocked each other away from the ball that bounced off the rim. That left Woodward wide open, and he easily took the ball and finished a put-back layup to tie the game at 38 — leaving Syracuse’s two forwards staring at each other as the play unfolded.

It was one of 19 offensive rebounds that Syracuse allowed against the Raiders on Saturday, a flashback to games last year when the Orange struggled on the offensive glass against teams like North Carolina en route to a defensive rebounding percentage that ranked 339th in the country, per KenPom. They hadn’t allowed more than nine in the opening two games but struggled against Woodward, who had five, and the rest of Colgate’s forwards.

Syracuse had chances at the offensive end too with rebounds, including possession with two minutes left consisting of three offensive boards and four missed shots. But it couldn’t convert at the same rate that the Raiders did — 18% of Colgate’s points came on second chances.

Cummings missed a 3-pointer with just over four minutes left, the result of quick and smooth ball movement, but followed his shot and secured the rebound — flipping it back to another Colgate player while falling out of bounds. That found the hands of Tucker Richardson, and he sank a 3-pointer to extend the Raiders’ lead to nine.

Buddy’s second half when Girard takes over

None of Syracuse’s first 15 points came from Buddy Boeheim, evidence the Orange’s offensive output this season won’t directly correlate with their best shooter’s scoring totals like it did last year — especially during a late-season run to the Sweet 16. Buddy made his first shot of the game with 13:55 left in the first half when he curled around near the perimeter, took a pass from Girard and sank a mid-range jumper from above the free-throw line.

He still finished with 19 points but struggled to string together shots early in the frame with primarily Richardson guarding him. The same openings behind the arc that he found in the past weren’t there, and he finished the game with just two 3-pointers.







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