What we learned from Syracuse basketball’s 85-72 win against Florida State

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse had to further legitimatize itself as an Atlantic Coast Conference contender, and that’s exactly what the Orange (17-8, 7-5 ACC) did with an 85-72 win over Florida State in the Carrier Dome on Thursday.With the win over the Seminoles (16-8, 6-6), which only grew closer during a sloppy finish for both sides, SU improves to 7-1 in its last eight games and 7-2 since head coach Jim Boeheim returned from his nine-game suspension on Jan. 9. Syracuse did so by shooting 62 percent from the field, it’s best single-game mark by nearly 13 percentage points this season, and holding FSU’s dynamic freshman duo of Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley to four combined points in the second half.Aside from that, here’s what we learned about Syracuse from the game.1. Syracuse can beat a ‘switch-everything’ defense with a little patienceFlorida State started four quick players — Bacon, Beasley, point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes and 6-foot-8 swingman Montay Brandon — around 7-foot-3 center Boris Bojanovksy. That allowed the Seminoles to aggressively switch on all of the Orange’s ball screens and dribble handoffs, with the exception being the times that Bojanovsky hedged screens before retreating back to his man.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThis switch-everything defensive approach is one that’s given SU a lot of trouble this season. A lot of inferior teams tried it and found some success during Syracuse’s non-conference schedule, and a handful of ACC teams have stalled the Orange’s shot-happy offense with something resembling this approach.But SU head coach Jim Boeheim thought his team was particularly good at handling the Seminoles switches on Thursday, and cited its patience and shot selection as the reasons why.“We were patient, we kept waiting until we got a good situation, a good drive situation,” he said. “They’re not used to playing with the small, small guys, so when we got through there was nobody there to protect the basket and we got layups.”The offense, per usual, ran through Michael Gbinije and he collected a game-high 22 points while shooting 7-of-8 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3. He made the most of having big men switch to him on high ball screens, and his ability to get to the rim and then facilitate to the rest of the offense.“When we’re able to space the floor out like we did tonight and make shots and make plays,” Trevor Cooney said after the game, “we become a very very good offensive team and we showed it today.”2. Malachi Richardson’s flashy passing can get him in trouble, but his court vision is productive at day’s endTwice on Thursday, Richardson tried flashy passes that drew some ire from Boeheim.The first was a way-too-hard shovel pass that went through Tyler Lydon’s hands and out of bounds, and Boeheim slightly scowled at the freshman while saying, “Softer … softer.” The second was a one-handed alley-oop pass to Gbinije late in the game, that was just out of Gbinije’s reach and sent Boeheim flying off the bench and yelling at Richardson to take the easy layup.But even if Richardson’s flashy passes can boil Boeheim’s blood from time to time, he finished with a team-high five assists and his no-look scoop pass to Lydon late in the game was one of the many punctuation marks on SU’s win. The five assists tied his season- and career-high, and complemented a 17-point performance in which he shot a cool 6-for-10 from the field.“I like passing the ball,” Richardson said. “If there’s an open player I’m going to throw it, that’s really what it comes down to.”3. If you’re not sold on Syracuse, Syracuse noticesFor the most part, it seems that fan, media and social media perception of teams is largely white noise to those within the program. But after the Orange lost its first four ACC games — matching the worst start to conference play in program history — Boeheim noticed the negative opinions attached to his team’s performance.“I know a lot of people gave up on this team a long time ago,” Boeheim said. “So I’m happy with what they’ve done. You can win playing six or seven guys, we’ve always done that. Duke’s pretty good. We’d like to have another guy, but it’s more than enough guys. Oklahoma’s doing it, Duke’s doing, a lot of people are doing it.”A month ago, the clear counter-argument to Boeheim’s point would be that Oklahoma and Duke are doing it “well” and Syracuse simply isn’t. Now, the Orange has won seven of its last eight games, has a game at Boston College (0-11 in the ACC) on Sunday and has the right to laugh a little at its dissenters.“Against, I want to say Virginia Tech, we were down maybe a couple points with a couple and a bunch of fans were just leaving and we were able to send the game into overtime,” Richardson said. “So it was like, ‘Man, why would they give up on us like that?’ But it happens, we just have to move forward, and we still have to play basketball. I can’t worry about the fans, I’m here to win games and get better.” Comments Published on February 11, 2016 at 11:25 pm Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesselast_img

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