Eight days ago, Syracuse was one of the country’s last remaining unbeatens.
Fast forward a week, and the Orange have lost three in a row, with two of those coming on their home court.
The latest of those losses came of Tuesday night, when the Orange were embarrassed at home by Seton Hall, losing 90-68 to a Pirate team that has really struggled of late. Even with the return of Jeremy Hazell, the Pirates had lost six of seven in Big East play and eight of ten overall.
Tonight, the Pirates jumped out to a 10-2 lead and never looked back. Syracuse trailed for the entire game as Jeremy Hazell, who finished with 28 points on 10-17 shooting (5-10 from three), led the Seton Hall attack. All told, Seton Hall shot 54.1% from the field and 10-17 from three.
Maybe we should have listened to Jim Boeheim.
Early in the season as Syracuse continued to win games, Boeheim repeatedly said that his team was overrated. Maybe he was right. Boeheim tends to be correct in that regard when discussing his team.
So what has been plaguing Syracuse?
Part of it has been shot selection. Syracuse is not a great perimeter shooting team, and the last three games they have taken entirely too many quick, deep jump shots. Part of it is the return of Scoop Jardine to the level we all expected him to be at in the preseason — a slightly above average Big East point guard.
But the biggest issue has been on the defensive end of the floor.
Pitt dissected the Syracuse zone last Monday. Villanova spent most of Saturday’s game shooting over it. On Tuesday, Seton Hall did a little bit of both. Hazell was hitting threes from Jimmer Fredette range. Jordan Theodore and Fuquan Edwin were slashing to the basket seemingly at will. Jeff Robinson and Herb Pope were effective on the interior. The Pirates were beating the Orange down the floor.
Syracuse does not have the talent on the offensive end to get into a three point shooting contest in Big East play. They need to win with their defense and their rebounding. They need to play a blue collar brand of basketball. They need their style to be going to work in a pick-up truck with a brown bagf lunch, not in an Audi R8 with take out from a Wolfgang Puck restaurant.
And on Tuesday, they showed up to the Carrier Dome in a Fiat with some Arby’s.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.