Syracuse’s offense vanishes in 2nd-round of ACC Tournament, keys 78-59 loss to No. 12 North Carolina

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 8, 2018 at 2:07 am Contact: [email protected] | @jtbloss NEW YORK — The shot clock was born in Syracuse in 1954, the offspring of the owner of the city’s since-relocated NBA franchise and a game that he saw as entirely too slow. Each trip down the floor, it lasted, as it still does in the Association today, for 24 seconds. Without it, single possessions could go on for several minutes.The parents of many of Syracuse’s current players weren’t even alive back then. But in Wednesday night’s 78-59 Syracuse (20-13, 8-10 Atlantic Coast) loss to North Carolina (23-9, 11-7) in the second round of the ACC Tournament — a result that put SU in position to miss out on the NCAA Tournament three times in four years for the first time during head coach Jim Boeheim’s 42-year tenure — the Orange roster needed no history lesson to become well-acquainted with the red numbers that tick above the backboards in the Barclays Center.Instead, Syracuse’s sputtering offense familiarized the two parties. The Orange and the final seconds of the clock became nearly synonymous throughout the 40-minute contest. SU did not come close to its 305th nationally-ranked scoring average of 67.8 points per game because UNC locked the Orange down. Syracuse shot 32 percent on the day and committed 12 turnovers.Freshman forward Oshae Brissett, who finished with a game-high 20 points, credited the Tar Heels’ disciplined help defense. Junior guard Frank Howard said it was UNC’s ability to press the wings and cut off the first pass that prevented SU from initiating the offense.“They did a great job scouting that,” Howard said. “They understood where the first pass was looking toward. They just did a great job defensively all around. On-ball, they were very physical.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe frustration was visible, even early on. In the first half, Howard commanded the ball from the left wing. He dribbled. With a white and powder blue jersey hovering over his personal space, he surveyed for options. He saw none, so he motioned for freshman forward Marek Dolezaj to come across the court and set a screen to free the offense up. It took another request from Howard before Dolezaj finally left the low post, tossing his hands up in confusion as he trudged over to set the pick.Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerLater, Brissett received the ball in the short corner. The shot clock said shoot, the hand in his face said anything else. He drove, but realized that was the wrong choice. By the time he pulled up to let a jumper fly, he was out of both time and space. He double-clutched and heaved up an airball.It is situations like these that have made Syracuse an iso-heavy team all season. It is who the Orange is, because it is who it has to be. There’s no changing that. Not with a seven-man rotation where just three among that group are true scorers.“The problem with playing a lot of minutes with the way we’re playing is that (Howard and Battle) really have to do it off the dribble,” Boeheim said.So when a long and active UNC team is guarding the dribble, SU struggled. It committed at least five shot clock violations and came within a desperation heave of a few more. One of the violations came out of a media timeout, when there should be ample opportunity to set up and execute an offensive possession. Another buzzed when SU trailed by 17 with about two minutes left. That is not a situation that calls for patience.“We gotta do a better job of popping from other positions,” Howard said, adding that there was progress in that realm as the game rolled on. “… Having our 4-man or our 5-man pop and get him the ball to kind of get us off for a second and get us away.”Battle, asked across the locker room from where Howard supplied that hypothetical remedy, issued a similar solution: Move without the ball. It is a fundamental principle to beating man-to-man defense at any level of the game.So did SU do that on Wednesday night, in a game it probably had to win to go dancing?“No,” Battle said. “We didn’t do that well enough and we didn’t make enough shots. That’s what it came down to.”There is no time left to make corrections. With this loss, the little red numbers that ticked above Syracuse’s season just ran out. Commentslast_img

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