syracuse

New Year’s Resolutions: Syracuse Orange

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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES SYRACUSE PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Run C.J. Fair off of screens

  • Why it will happen: Looking at his raw numbers, C.J. Fair looks like he is having his best season as a collegian. He’s averaging a career-high 17.8 points and grabbing 5.3 boards as Syracuse as worked their way to No. 2 in the country. On the surface, it looks great. Except that Fair’s efficiency is down this year. He’s yet to find his three-point stroke, which is part of the problem, but he’s also finding himself in too many isolation situations. He’s not a guy that beats people 1-on-1. He’s not a guy that scores with his back to the basket. He’s a spot-up shooter that is lethal curling off of a down-screen.
  • Why it won’t happen: Unfortunately, Syracuse has a number of guys on their roster that aren’t 1-on-1 players. Their front court is big and athletic, but they are dunkers and rebounders and that’s about it. Trevor Cooney is a lights-out shooter, but he’s a catch-and-shoot guy right now. Outside of Tyler Ennis and Fair, there isn’t really anyone else. So even though Fair is scoring just 0.693 points-per-possession (PPP) in isolation situations — which has contributed to his high-turnover rate — he’ll likely be forced to try to beat people 1-on-1 much of the year.

WHAT DOES SYRACUSE SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Give up fewer offensive rebounds and second chance points

  • Why it will happen: This is the issue that the Orange have every season. Only once in the KenPom era have the Orange finished the season in the top 200 in defensive rebounding percentage. That came in 2008, the worst season Syracuse had during that span. This year? Syracuse is grabbing 68.4% of the available defensive rebounds, putting them in the top half of the country. They’re better than they have been.
  • Why it won’t happen: Syracuse plays a zone, and anyone can tell you that it’s more difficult to rebound out of a zone than out of man-to-man defense. Add in the fact that the Orange have a tendency to try to rely on outjumping opponents instead of boxing out, and it’s not a surprise that they struggle cleaning the defensive glass.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s ‘Dancing Guy’ has scary fall while carrying girl

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Kentucky’s ‘Dancing Guy’ has turned into a fan favorite at Rupp Arena.

Every home game, during one of the TV timeouts in the second half, ‘Mony Mony’ will come on, Dancing Guy will hop into the aisle and he’ll break it down like only a middle-aged white guy from Kentucky can.

As you can see, it didn’t quite go all that well for Dancing Guy on Tuesday night, as he tried to do a rail slide while holding a young, female fan and completely ate it.

Here’s another angle of the fall:

It looks much scarier that it actually was, as all reports indicate that everyone made it through the fall healthy.

No. 5 Xavier stumbles at Creighton, lose 70-54

Creighton's Cole Huff (13) and Toby Hegner, left, guard Xavier's Jalen Reynolds (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Mo Watson went for a career-high 32 points, seven boards and five assists as Creighton jumped out to an early 21-4 lead and never looked back, beating No. 5 Xavier, 70-54, in Omaha on Tuesday night.

 

It was a massive win for the Bluejays, who still have an outside shot at earning an at-large bid this season. (We wrote all about that here.)

As well as Creighton played, the bigger story here may actually be Xavier, who lost for just the third time this season; they had been the only top ten team with just two losses to their name.

The issue for the Musketeers tonight was two-fold, but they both are a symptom of what could be an issue down the road for this team: Xavier doesn’t really have a true point guard.

They certainly didn’t have anyone to stop Watson. By the second half, they had essentially asked Reynolds, who was playing the middle of their 1-3-1 zone to matchup with Watson. It was weird but was actually somewhat effective.

The Musketeers also started out ice cold from the floor, missing 11 of their first 13 shots, and those misses led to leak outs from Bluejays, who got layups and open threes in transition to build that 17 point lead. Once Xavier got behind, it turned into scramble mode for Xavier. They forced shots early in the clock and didn’t start pounding the ball into the paint until it was too late. What they needed was someone to be able to settle things, to ensure that offensive would get initiated and sets would get executed when they were able to get the lead down to single digits.

That 1-for-19 shooting performance from beyond the arc certainly didn’t help matters, and neither did the fact that they got just nine field goals all game from players not named James Farr or Jalen Reynolds. The most frustrating part for head coach Chris Mack? They had good shots. It wasn’t like Creighton took away everything that Xavier wanted to do.

The kids just had one of those nights where nothing went down.

Those happen.

And when you combine them with a total inability to contain the opposing team’s point guard, what you get is a 16 point loss on the road against a team that was desperate to get a good win.