Syracuse basketball stat of the day

first_imgEvery day this Syracuse basketball season, Daily Orange men’s basketball beat writer Jesse Dougherty will provide a fresh team or individual statistic.The stats will come from a mix of Kenpom.com, Hoop-Math.com, College Basketball Reference and Cuse.com. The statistics appear below in chronological order with the newest at the top. This will be updated every day with the newest statistic, which will first appear on Twitter (@dougherty_jesse and @DOSports) without the “Why this matters” analysis that you can read in this post.If you want to see a specific statistic, tweet at one of those accounts or make a request in the comment section below.AprilApril 1: Syracuse’s zone is great at defending the 3, ranking 13th in the country holding opponents to a 30.8 clip from beyond the arc, but is weaker at defending the paint. That’s strange for a zone, but more understandable when considering the Orange’s thin frontcourt. SU allows opponents to shoot 47.5 percent inside the arc, a number that North Carolina can certainly take advantage. Read this column from Friday on how the Syracuse guards can help their teammates protect the rim.MarchMarch 31: North Carolina, based on Kenpom’s offensive efficiency metric, has the best offense in the country scoring 123.1 points per an adjusted 100 possessions. To supplement that, the Tar Heels rank third in the country in team offensive rebounding percentage at 40.3. And while both these factors would make UNC seem unguardable, its team 3-point percentage of 32.1 ranks 285th out of 351 Division I teams. To control North Carolina on Saturday, Syracuse has to pack it in until the Tar Heels make a few perimeter shots and make a five-player effort to clean up the defensive glass. If not, SU’s offseason will start late Saturday night.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMarch 30: There aren’t many clear trends in North Carolina’s six losses this season, but opponents taking good care of the ball is one. In five of the Tar Heels’ six losses, opponents committed eight or fewer turnovers. Louisville was the only team to beat UNC with more than that, committing 14 turnovers on Feb. 1. In its 32 wins, opponents finished with eight or fewer turnovers just three times.North Carolina is so good at scoring in transition that turnovers can be considered close-to-automatic points. Limiting those mistakes is a clear key to beating one of the best, if not the best, teams in the country.March 29: Read this statistic-based story courtesy of Sam Fortier and Tomer Langer, The Daily Orange’s assistant sports copy editors.March 28: If you haven’t heard, Syracuse basketball is in the Final Four. The other three teams — North Carolina, Oklahoma and Villanova — all held the Associated Press No. 1 ranking at some point this season. The Orange was ranked for just one week and it was in the No. 14 spot.March 27: Virginia’s team turnover percentage of 15 is the 13th best in the nation, according to Kenpom. That’s also the best of the six teams left in the NCAA Tournament, and the Cavaliers’ starting guards — London Perrantes, Malcolm Brogdon and Devon Hall — had a combined zero turnovers in UVA’s Sweet 16 win over Iowa State on Friday.Two-day break due to travel and NCAA Tournament coverage March 24 (From fellow beat writer Sam Blum): Seven of the Sweet 16 teams are ranked 330th or lower in bench minutes, according to Kenpom. Kenpom measures bench minutes as any minutes played outside of a given teams five most played players. Syracuse ranks 350th in the country with 16.2 percent of its minutes going to the bench and Gonzaga, its opponent in Chicago on Friday, ranks 338th at 22.9 percent.March 23: Gonzaga ranks 12th in the country in effective field goal percentage (55.3), 14th in the country in team 2-point percentage (54.5), 15th in the country in team free-throw percentage (75.8) and 42nd in the country in team 3-point percentage (37.8). All numbers are from Kenpom. The Bulldogs’ strong shooting gives it the 23rd best offense in the country in terms of Kenpom’s offensive rating, scoring an adjusted 114.5 points per 100 possessions. March 22: Dayton (11) and Middle Tennessee State (8) had a combined 19 assists against Syracuse in its first two NCAA Tournament games, which is the lowest back-to-back game total against the Orange since Nov. 25 and Nov. 28 at the start of the 2014–15 season. Those games were against Loyola and Holy Cross, who finished with a combined 16 assists. March 21:  Here is the average points allowed per game for each Sweet 16 team through two Tournament games, with each team’s seed in parentheses.1. Syracuse (10) — 50.52. Wisconsin (7) — 533. Gonzaga (11) — 55.54. Virginia (1) — 575. Oregon (1) — 586. Villanova (2) — 627. Miami (3) — 64.58. North Carolina (1) — 66.59. Maryland (5) — 6710. Notre Dame (6) — 6911. Kansas (1) — 7012. Indiana (5) — 70.513. Iowa State (3) — 7114. Duke (4) — 74.515. Oklahoma (2) — 74.516. Texas A&M (3) — 76.5March 20: Tyler Lydon finished with a career-high six blocks in a 75-50 win over Middle Tennessee State in the Round of 32 on Sunday, making him the 20th player to do so in an NCAA Tournament game since 2010.March 19: Syracuse held Dayton to 10 offensive rebounds in its 19-point win Friday, and the Orange is now 13-5 this season when it does that. Middle Tennessee State, SU’s opponent in the Round of 32 on Sunday, has grabbed 10 or more offense rebounds in just 12 of its 35 games this year. It shouldn’t be too hard for Syracuse to keep the underdog Blue Raiders off the offensive glass, and that could go a long way in helping the Orange advance to the Sweet 16 in Chicago next weekend. March 18: Middle Tennessee State made 11 3s in its upset over second-seeded Michigan State on Friday, and it was the ninth time this season that the Blue Raiders made 10 or more 3s in a game. Syracuse, which will face MTSU on Sunday, has done so 12 times. That game will be a shootout, we can be sure of that much. March 17: Here are some interesting trends, published in Dayton’s postseason guide handed out in St. Louis on Wednesday, that you may find interesting heading into Friday’s matchup. Dayton is 20-2 this year when it out-rebounds teams this season.Dayton is 34-1 when limiting opponents to 60 or fewer points in the last three seasons.Dayton is 21-3 this year when three or more players score in double-figures, with two of those losses coming against St. Joseph’s.Dayton is 10-1 this year when Kyle Davis (averaging 7.9 points per game) scores in double-figures.March 16: St. Louis, where Syracuse will start its NCAA Tournament run on Friday, is 884 miles from downtown Philadelphia. That’s where the Daily Orange team — made up of myself, Matt Schneidman and photographer Margaret Lin — is leaving from Wednesday morning. You can follow all of our coverage here.March 15: Syracuse and Dayton, two very good defenses, both force teams to take a lot of time on each possession. According to Kenpom, teams take 19.2 seconds per possession against the Orange (longest in the country) and 18 seconds against the Flyers (305th longest out of 351 Division I teams). A game that is slow-paced on both ends isn’t necessarily a problem for either team, but Dayton seems more likely to try to break the mold and speed things up. According to Hoop-Math, 23.4 percent of the Flyers’ shot have come in transition this year while the Orange has only taken 20.6 percent of its shots on the break. Why this matters: All signs point to this being a half-court battle in St. Louis on Friday, but it would probably do Dayton well to try to break out in transition for high-percentage opportunities. Both teams are used to their opponents playing slow, but the Flyers average significantly more possessions per game than the Orange and will likely need those extra possessions while adjusting to SU’s 2-3 zone.March 14: Syracuse had trouble with turnovers (especially late turnovers) toward the end of the season, and that doesn’t bode well for its matchup with Dayton on Friday. The Orange averaged 15 turnovers per game in its last four contests of the season, including its ACC tournament loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The Flyers have been forcing turnovers at a torrid pace, with its last three opponents giving it up an average 14.3 times. In those three games, the Flyers had 9, 7 and 9 steals, respectively. Why this matters: The margin for error always shrinks in NCAA Tournament games, and that will be especially true for a turnover-prone Syracuse team against a pesky Dayton man-to-man defense. The Orange often hasn’t been good enough to turn the ball over with regularity, and that’s exactly what the Flyers have been forcing teams to do in recent games.BREAK BEFORE NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET REVEAL March 9: The last time Trevor Cooney played fewer than 25 minutes (before playing 24 minutes in Syracuse’s 72-71 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday) was when he played 20 on Nov. 12, 2013 — a win over Fordham in the second game of his sophomore season. That was 96 games ago. Why this matters: While Syracuse staged a dramatic late-game comeback without Cooney on the floor on Wednesday, he entered the game for the final possession and missed a 3. He did not say whether the decreased playing time affected the result of that final play, but it’s worth nothing that it was a situation he’s not used to being in.March 8: Syracuse is 2-6 this season when its opponent collects 18 or more assists, including when Pittsburgh (which the Orange plays at noon Wednesday) notched 18 assists on Dec. 30. The Panthers — which rank second in the ACC with 17.2 assists per game — has collected 18 or more assists 14 times and are 14-0 in those games.Why this matters: When teams move the ball really well and, as a result, move zone, Syracuse’s chances of winning are significantly lowered. Led by point guard James Robinson, the Panthers’ offense thrives on its ball movement and their ability to stretch out the zone has been a big factor in both of its wins over the Orange this season.March 7: With Syracuse’s loss to Florida State on Saturday, this is the first time since 1993 that the Orange has failed to win 20 regular-season games in back-to-back seasons. SU finished this regular season 19-12 and finished last season (in which it couldn’t play in the postseason due to a self-imposed ban) 18-13. The last time this happened, Syracuse finished the 1991–92 regular season 18-9 and the 1992–93 season 18-8. Why this matters: This really doesn’t have much of an effect on Syracuse’s current season, but rather shows a bigger-picture trend that the Orange is struggling (for a variety of reasons) to an extent that hasn’t been seen for more than two decades.March 6:  Syracuse has lost its last four games to Pittsburgh, and the statistical commonality that stands out in those losses is that the Orange hasn’t shot better than 33.3 percent from 3. Pittsburgh’s plays an uptight man-to-man and SU has been able to get to the line. But the Panthers have held Syracuse in check from 3, which is especially tough for this year’s Orange. Why this matters: Syracuse plays Pittsburgh in the first round of the ACC tournament on Wednesday, and after losing to Florida State on Saturday it is conceivable that the Orange needs a win over the Panthers for a chance at an NCAA Tournament bid. This SU team, more than those of the past few seasons, needs to shoot well from the perimeter to win and Pitt does a great job of making sure the Orange doesn’t do that.March 5: Syracuse committed 16 turnovers in its loss at Florida State on Saturday, and has now had 15 or more turnovers in three straight games. Before this three-game stretch, the Orange had only committed 15 or more turnovers four times all season and never done so in back-to-back games.Why this matters: Plain simply, this is not the right time of the season for Syracuse to be its most careless with the basketball. Much of the FSU game was played up and down as a result of turnovers by both squads, but that played right into the Seminoles hand and ultimately led to the Orange’s crippling loss. It’s hard to say who’s fully at fault here with SU cycling through ball-handlers in a give game, but it’s a trend that needs to be fixed team wide or the Orange won’t be dancing for the second straight year.March 4: Montay Brandon, an FSU starter and a key offensive player in recent years, has been used on just 11.5 percent of the Seminoles possessions this season according to Kenpom.com. Kenpom’s defines usage as a player ending a possession with a made shot, turnover or missed shot that is rebounded by the opposing team. Brandon’s low usage rate classifies him as a “Nearly invisible” player on Kenpom after he averaged 11.8 points per game last season. If Syracuse is being beat by Florida State’s guards and bigs on Saturday, forcing Brandon to beat the zone could be something to try.Why this matters: With Dwayne Bacon, Malik Beasley and Xavier Rathan-Mayes providing a constant threat to score, it seems that the obvious answer would be for Syracuse to force the Seminoles inside. But FSU still has 7-foot-3 center Boris Bojanovsky, and while he isn’t exactly an offensive savant he still has the sheer size to bully SU’s frontcourt in the paint. If those two things happen at once, forcing Brandon to be assertive on a possession or two could be worth testing out.March 3: Syracuse had it’s best offensive game of the season in its win over Florida State on Feb. 11. How good was it? The 85 points was a season-high, field-goal percentage of 62 was the best of the year (and SU’s best since March 5, 2011), 31 field goals made was the second most this season, and 3-point percentage of 47.1 the fourth best of the season.Why this matters: The Orange could really use this win at Florida State for its NCAA Tournament resume, and it’s a very good sign that it had such an easy time scoring on the Seminoles in the Carrier Dome in early February. That’s not a guarantee that these numbers will be replicated (and that would also be near impossible to do), but it’s an encouraging trend for Syracuse.March 2:  Ten of Syracuse’s 11 losses — excluding its loss at Virginia on Jan. 24 — have come in bunches this season. Before conference play, the Orange lost three-of-four games in an 11-day span. Then SU lost its first four games of ACC play in an 11-day span. Lastly, Syracuse has lost three of its last four games in a 13-day span. The common denominator of these stretches is below-average shooting, and here’s how each stretch compares to the Orange’s season averages from the field and from 3.Team field goal percentage on the season: 42.4Team 3-point field goal percentage on the season: 35.81-3 stretch (losses to Wisconsin, Georgetown, St. John’s) — Dec. 2 to Dec. 13Field goal percentage: 39.8 (Difference from season average: -2.6)3-point field goal percentage: 30.2 (Difference from season average: -5.6)0-4 stretch (losses to Pitt, Miami, Clemson, UNC) — Dec. 30 to Jan. 9Field goal percentage: 39.3 (Difference from season average: -3.1)3-point field goal percentage: 33.1 (Difference from season average: -2.5)1-3 stretch (losses to Louisville, Pitt, UNC) — Feb. 17 to presentField goal percentage: 40.8 (Difference from season average: -1.6)3-point field goal percentage: 30.7 (Difference from season average: -5.1)Why this matters: What this shows is that Syracuse is extremely prone to hitting multi-game shooting slumps. It’s shooting averages aren’t off the charts to begin with, so dipping significantly below them for four straight games three times this season is not a good sign for the postseason run. It’s possible SU could steal one or (and maybe two) wins without shooting to its full potential, but anything more than that is likely out of the questions.March 1: Tyler Roberson finished with 11 rebounds in Syracuse’s loss to No. 8 North Carolina on Monday night, which tied his total across the Orange’s three pervious games. It was also just nine fewer rebounds than his total across the five games between Monday and his last double-digit rebounding game (Feb. 2). Why this matters: Roberson has been highly criticized by Jim Boeheim over the last few weeks, and he said after the loss to the Tar Heels that it’s “all mental.” That being said, a solid performance (albeit) in a loss, will likely have tangible effects on Roberson’s confidence as the Orange nears the ACC tournament.FebruaryFeb. 29: In the final 8 minutes and 15 seconds of North Carolina’s win over Syracuse on Jan. 9, the Tar Heels went 12-of-13 from the field and made 10 of those shots in the paint. This is an illustration of how much Syracuse struggled to defend UNC’s interior scorers — namely Brice Johnson and Isaiah Hicks down the stretch — and how that could again be a major factor when these teams meet in Chapel Hill on Monday night. Why this matters: Read this breakdown of the challenges North Carolina poses for Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.Feb. 28: Trevor Cooney’s eight points in Syracuse’s last two games is his lowest two-game total since he scored three total points in back-to-back games (on Feb. 18 and 21, 2015) against Louisville and Pittsburgh last season. In the back-to-back games last year, he scored three points in a win over the Cardinals and zero points in a loss to the Panthers. In the last two games this season, Cooney scored three in a loss to Pittsburgh and five in the Orange’s win over N.C. State on Saturday.  Why this matters: The win over the Wolfpack was further evidence that SU doesn’t need Cooney to score for it to win, but it also took a career-high 34 points from Michael Gbinije to get there. The Orange will need Cooney to break out of this slump moving forward, because a game like the loss to Pittsburgh two Saturdays ago shows how Cooney’s poor shorting can correlate to results.Feb. 27: Michael Gbinije scored a career-high 34 points in a 75-66 win over N.C. State on Saturday, andhis 22 second-half points would have been a game-high on their own. The next highest scorer in the game after Gbinije was the Wolfpack’s Caleb Martin, who finished with 18. Why this matters: Gbinije was in other world in this game, and his second-half performance was everything Syracuse needed to avoid a bad home loss to N.C. State. The Orange’s offense started to stall a little bit in the middle of the final 20 minutes, and Gbinije kept it afloat with a mix of 3s and savvy drives to the rim. He was being dogged on and off the ball for just about all of the game, but his production never waned.Feb. 26: Syracuse’s Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije will be honored as seniors before Saturday’s game against N.C. State, and the ceremony comes at the culmination of their development across the last three seasons. In the 2013–14 season — Cooney’s first year as a starter and Gbinije’s first year with the Orange, in which he came off the bench — the pair averaged a combined 15.5 points per game. The next year that number grew to 26.1, and now the backcourt pairing is averaging a combined 30.2 points per game with three games left in the regular season.Why this matters: In the next few weeks, there is going to be a lot of “legacy” talk surrounding Cooney and Gbinije as their college careers wrap up. But just the consistent improvement alone is worth heralding during this final stretch, even if the pair can’t lift Syracuse too deep into the postseason.Feb. 25: We talk a lot about Syracuse keeping teams off of the offensive glass, but the Orange’s offense has also suffered because of its lack of offensive rebounding in recent games. During SU’s 8-1 stretch after its loss to North Carolina on Jan. 9, Syracuse finished with fewer than 10 rebounds in just three games and never did so in back-to-back contests. Now the Orange has lost back-to-back games, to two great rebounding teams in Louisville and Pittsburgh, and finished with seven and four offensive rebounds, respectively.Why this matters: Syracuse has been shooting very poorly in the last two games, and hasn’t compensated for that by hitting the offensive glass for high-percentage scoring looks. As said above, Louisville and Pittsburgh are both great rebounding teams so it’s hard to be too hard on the Orange for not turning offensive rebounds into points in these contests. With that said, SU is a much better offense when Tyler Roberson, Tyler Lydon and Dajuan Coleman are cleaning up misses and piling up second-chance points. Dec. 29: Syracuse’s bench minutes percentage of 16.4 is the lowest among 351 Division I teams, according to Kenpom. To measure bench minutes, Kenpom considers a team’s five most played players its “starters” (meaning Tyler Lydon is a “starter” instead of Dajuan Coleman) and attributes the remaining minutes to its bench. Players who have played less than 10 percent of their team’s minutes are not counted, which excludes Chinonso Obokoh. This statistic is especially surprising (or troubling) considering the Orange has played against Lehigh, St. Bonaventure, Elon, Charlotte, Colgate, Cornell, Montana State and Texas Southern, and has still used a very tight six-man rotation. Why this matters: Logic would say that of Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney, Malachi Richardson, Tyler Roberson, Dajuan Coleman and Tyler Lydon will slowly tire if Syracuse’s rotation stays this tight. The Orange is about to jump into ACC play (starting at Pittsburgh on Wednesday) and games are going to be both physical and up-tempo. SU loves to play fast so that won’t be a problem from a strategic perspective, but right now it seems like its collective legs will be the least fresh in the entire league.Dec. 28 (From fellow beat writer Matt Schneidman): Syracuse finished 10-3 in nonconference play, and its results have coincided with its success shooting the 3. In its three losses, the Orange shot 24.7 percent (19-for-77) from deep. In its 10 wins, SU shot a for more serviceable 38.7 percent (96-of-248) from beyond the arc. Why this matters: Syracuse players and coaches have said (sometimes semi-satirically) that the team will live and die by the 3, and that is exactly how non-conference play unfolded for the Orange. This offensive strategy creates a slippery slope for any team, but has become a necessity for an SU team that lacks a consistent inside scoring option.Dec. 27:  In a 80-67 win over Texas Southern, Syracuse finished with a season-low five turnovers and the Tigers had just three steals. Previously, the Orange had less than 10 turnovers in just two games this season, seven in a win over Montana State and six in a loss to St. John’s. By limiting its turnovers against Texas Southern, the Orange held the Tigers to just five points off turnovers, all of which came when SU had the game in hand late in the second half. Why this matters: Syracuse had trouble taking care of the ball at the start of the season, but has clearly straightened that problem out with non-conference play wrapped up. The Orange hasn’t been a great defensive team this season, so limiting an opponent’s points off of turnovers takes a little pressure off the zone in the half court.Dec. 26: Malachi Richardson made 13-of-31 3-point attempts (41.9 percent) in the first five games of the season. In the seven games since, Richardson had made 8-of-48 (16 percent), and even that number is largely boosted by a 4-for-10 3-point shooting performance against Colgate. In that stretch, Richardson shot a combined 1-for-23 from deep in the Orange’s losses to Wisconsin (1-for-7), Georgetown (0-for-5) and St. John’s (0-for-11). Those are the only three losses of SU’s season.Why this matters: As teams start to implement different ways to get the ball out of Michael Gbinije’s hands, the offensive spotlight will shine brighter and brighter on Richardson and Trevor Cooney. And if Richardson continues to shoot at such a low clip, teams will be more likely to shade toward Cooney and leave the freshman to either make shots and take pressure off his teammates, or miss them and make the Orange offense wholly one-dimensional.Dec. 25: Syracuse has had three or more losses at two straight Christmases now. The Orange has had three or more losses at Christmas just six times in Jim Boeheim’s 40 years as head coach. The seven combined losses — four last season and three this year — at the last two Christmases is the highest total at back-to-back Dec. 25’s in the last 40 years. Why this matters: When surveying Syracuse’s history with Jim Boeheim at the helm, it’s clear that the last two seasons have stood out as a bit of a struggle. The Orange still has a lot of time to prove itself a good “Syracuse” team this season, but its three losses in the early going points to a troubling holiday trend.Dec. 24: According to Hoop Math, Tyler Roberson has 37 makes at the rim this season, and 18 of them have been assisted on. That means a higher number of his makes at the rim have been unassisted on, a surprising figure for the raw (but becoming less raw) offensive forward. Roberson’s used a persistent presence on the offensive glass and a higher commitment to going off the dribble to create his own scoring opportunities within Syracuse’s perimeter-oriented offense.Why this matters: The Orange needs Roberson to be an offensive threat, but it also can’t spend a lot of time or touches to develop him as one. With SU committed to “living and dying” by the 3, Roberson needs to take what comes with him and produce within the flow of Syracuse’s up-tempo offense. That doesn’t lend itself to a forward getting a lot of one-on-one scoring opportunities in the high post, but it can only help the Orange if Roberson is attacking the basket and proving effective when he does get those chances.Dec. 23: Syracuse finished with a season-high 22 assists in a win over Montana State on Wednesday night, and it was the 29th time since the start of the 2010 season that the Orange had 20 or more assists in a game. But, even more impressively, SU’s seven turnovers was tied for the second lowest in those 29 games. On Nov. 29, 2011, Syracuse finished with 21 assists and just six turnovers in a win over Eastern Michigan. Why this matters: Syracuse struggled taking care of the ball at the start of the season, even against mid-major opponents. But Tuesday night’s win over Montana State showed that the Orange is capable of both sharing and protecting the basketball. As competition stiffens and opposing defense’s get tougher in conference play — which starts on Dec. 30 — this balance will become ever more important.Dec. 22: Syracuse’s offense is built to play in transition, but the Orange also needs to know when to slow it down. According to Hoop Math, SU does not shoot well in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock off an opponent make. On the season, it has an effective field goal percentage of 38.5 and is shooting just 16.7 percent from 3 when trying to rush into its half-court offense. From 11–30 seconds in the shot clock after an opponent make, Syracuse has an effective field goal percentage of 45.5 percent and is shooting an impressive 40 percent from 3. There are times to play fast — off steals and long rebounds — and it seems that off opponent makes is not one of them.Why this matters: It makes complete sense that Syracuse wants to play fast whenever it can. Its best offense is 3-point shooting and when its perimeter players penetrate. The best opportunities to do so are naturally in the open floor in the fast break. But the Orange also seems to rush into its half-court sets a lot, resulting in the poor early-shot clock shooting percentages off opponent makes. When the game slows down into the half court — which will happen when the other team is shooting well — SU’s best offense is predicated on patience rather than pace.Dec. 21: Syracuse’s ability to steal the basketball has been well-documented this season, but it is also surprisingly good at blocking shots. Before Monday’s games, the Orange’s team block percentage of 14 ranks 37th in the country, according to Kenpom. Clemson (sixth in the country at 16.8) and Louisville (22nd at 15.1) are the only ACC teams with higher block percentages than SU. Block percentage measures the rate in which a team blocks the opposition’s 2-point field goal attempts. Why this matters: With an undefined frontcourt, Syracuse’s ability to defend the paint is presumed to be shaky-at-best. And while that is for the most part true, having Tyler Lydon and Tyler Roberson protecting the rim with their shot-blocking abilities can mask the Orange’s lack of size around the rim a little bit. In past years, SU has been able to lean on players like Rakeem Christmas, Baye Moussa-Keita and Fab Melo to defend the rim. This team doesn’t have that tough inside presence on defense, but it looks like a communal effort is providing solid results through 11 games.Dec 20: Click for a full stat breakdown on why Tyler Roberson is currently the best second-chance scorer in the Atlantic Coast Conference.Dec. 19: Heading into Saturday’s games, Michael Gbinije and Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson are the only two ACC players leading their team in scoring, assists and steals. Gbinije is third in the conference in scoring averaging at 19.8 points per game, first in the conference in steals averaging 2.9 and leads the Orange with 4.3 assists per game. Jackson’s 17.8 scoring average currently ranks seventh in the conference, his five assists a game is fourth and he leads the Fighting Irish with 1.1 steals per game.Why this matters: It’s clear, through the first third of the season, that both Syracuse and Notre Dame have an All-ACC caliber guard. That will go a long way in a conference top-heavy with elite offenses, as both Gbinije and Jackson create their own opportunities and set their teammates up for success.Dec. 18: With three non-conference games to play, SU ranks 11th among ACC teams in Kenpom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, which measures points scored per 100 possessions and adjusts according to opponents. The Orange’s 107.4 offensive efficiency rating becomes especially troubling when looking at how well some ACC offenses are performing. Below is a ranking of ACC teams by offensive efficiency, with each team’s national ranking in the category in parentheses.1. Duke (1) — 120.42. Notre Dame (2) — 118.63. North Carolina (3) — 118.14. Miami (6) — 116.45. Virginia (8) — 115.96. Pittsburgh (13) — 1147. Louisville (23) — 112.58. Florida State (63) — 108.59. North Carolina State (65) — 108.410. Wake Forest (72) — 107.911. Syracuse (80) — 107.412. Georgia Tech (82) — 107.313. Clemson (114) — 105.614. Virginia Tech (118) — 105.315. Boston College (284) — 97.1Why this matters: Syracuse has nine games this season against teams that currently rank in the top 25 of Kenpom’s offensive efficiency rating. That only magnifies the fact that the Orange currently sits at 80 in this category, which badly needs to improve when the calendar flips to 2016.Dec. 17: Syracuse had a lot of trouble stopping St. John’s’ guards in Sunday’s loss, and another perimeter threat is coming to the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Cornell point guard Robert Hatter is shooting 45.7 percent from 3 and has the second highest usage rate in the country, according to Kenpom. His 40.8 assist rate, which divides a player’s assists by the field goals made by his teammates when he’s on the court, ranks 11th in the nation. Hatter is a shooter and playmaker, and just about everything the Big Red does runs directly through him. Why this matters: Syracuse has three non-conference games left, and playing a talented versatile guard like Hatter could be pay dividends later in the season. The Orange defense — namely the guards and wings of the zone — needs to show it can shut down a perimeter threat after the field day St. John’s’ guards had in Madison Square Garden. The stakes are low against a mostly one-dimensional Big Red team, but it’s a good test nonetheless for a defense that simply needs to get better.Dec. 16: In the second halves of Syracuse’s last two losses — at Georgetown and St. John’s, respectively — Tyler Lydon has played 26 of a possible 40 minutes at center. On Sunday, St. John’s’ 44 second-half points was the most any Orange opponent has scored in one frame this season. The Hoyas scored 43, tying for the second most in a half. St. John’s worked the ball inside before sucking in the defense and finding open shooters. Georgetown pounded the ball inside to 6-foot-11 center Bradley Hayes, who scored 13 points in the last 20 minutes.Why this matters: Syracuse’s best offensive lineup puts Lydon at the center spot, but it has also really struggled to get stops in games that the Orange has tried to come back in. Moving forward, SU has to find a way to balance offensive effectiveness and size in the paint defensively, especially when it can’t afford to be giving up points late in games. Read more analysis in this column. Jan. 4: According to Hoop-Math, Syracuse’s worst team effective field goal percentages are on possessions coming off made field goals by the other team, especially when it tries to rush into its half-court offense. The Orange is effectively shooting 46 percent from the 11-second to 30-second mark of possessions off opponent scores, and 40 percent in the first 10 seconds of possessions of opponent scores. Below are the effective field goal percentages for other types of possessions, showing that Syracuse struggles in the half court when teams can get set on defense and is probably best in its secondary fast break (possessions that run longer than 10 seconds off steals).Off a rebound, 0-10 seconds into the shot clock — 50.4 percentOff a rebound, 11-30 seconds into the shot clock — 52.1 percentOff opponent score, 0-10 seconds into the shot clock — 40 percent Off opponent score, 11-30 seconds into the shot clock — 46 percentOff a steal, 0-10 seconds into the shot clock — 50 percentOff a steal, 11-30 seconds into the shot clock — 58 percentWhy this matters: Syracuse has continually said that it needs to play in transition, and this just further reinforces that. The Orange’s numbers aren’t eye-popping when it’s on the fast break, but SU is shooting at a higher clip when defenses can’t get set in the half court. Pittsburgh and Miami, Syracuse’s first two ACC games and first two ACC losses, were particularly good at defending ball screens which made it hard for the Orange to score in its half-court sets. Those won’t be the last teams that are tough on defense during conference play, so the Band-Aid fix becomes playing faster and taking quicker shots when they’re open.Jan. 3: Opponents have a 36.5 offensive rebounding percentage against Syracuse this season, which ranks the Orange 330th in defensive rebounding among 351 Division I teams. Washington’s opponents have a 36.8 offensive rebounding percentage on the year, making it the only power-five team worse at defensive rebounding than SU. The next worst ACC team has been Virginia Tech, whose opponents have a 31.8 offensive rebounding percentage. Why this matters: It’s clear that Syracuse isn’t going to be a good rebounding team this season. Not much is going to change that, because there’s no trade deadline or free agency wire in college basketball. But that doesn’t mean it’s excusable for the Orange to be this bad. It’s going to face a lot of physical teams in its conference schedule and if it can’t improve, if only slightly, on the defensive glass it’s going to be a long, unsuccessful season in central New York.Jan 2: In Syracuse’s 64-51 loss to No. 13 Miami on Saturday, Michael Gbinije scored 10 points or fewer for just the third time in his last 26 games going back to last season. He shot 3-for-14 from the field, 0-for-7 from 3 and 4-for-9 from the free-throw line. He also committed a career-high eight turnovers, which made it the worst game of his college career. Why this matters: Syracuse cannot win basketball games, especially against top-flight ACC opponents, when Gbinije underperformed. Against the Hurricanes, he was constantly hounded by 5-foot-11 point guard Angel Rodriguez and could not take advantage of an 8-inch height advantage. Gbinije’s poor offensive performance started with him not being able to handle the ball comfortably, but he also forced a lot of perimeter shots that were either contested or way too early in the shot clock. The result was a 13-point loss in which the Orange led at the half but couldn’t compete in down the stretch without production from its best player.Jan. 1: Miami has nine players averaging at least 13 minutes per game this season, and only one player (Sheldon McClellan, 30.8) averaging at least 30. Syracuse, on the other hand, has five players averaging at least 30 minutes per game and just one other player (Dajuan Coleman, 15.5) averaging more than 10. Why this matters: These two teams square off at Miami on Saturday, and a key to a potential Syracuse upset is for the Orange to speed up the game and get easy buckets in transition. But it seems like the Hurricanes will be able to handle that rather easily, since they rotate in up to nine players in a given game and have fresh legs on the floor at all times. Feb. 24: Syracuse has had the tightest rotation in the country for much of this season, according to Kenpom, but has been supplanted by Hofstra in the last week. Kenpom defines bench play as any minutes played outside of the top five most played players (meaning Tyler Lydon is considered a “starter” and Dajuan Coleman a bench player for the Orange). Syracuse’s plays its bench 16.2 percent of the time while Hofstra does so 14.6 of the time, good for the lowest rate among 351 Division I teams.Why this matters: Jim Boeheim’s rotation isn’t going to get any looser as the regular season winds down, it’s just fun to note that Syracuse isn’t dead last in this category anymore.Feb. 23: Outside of the paint, a Tyler Lydon transition 3 is Syracuse’s most efficient way of scoring this season. Lydon is shooting 48 percent (12-for-25) on transition 3s, according to Hoop-Math, which is eight points better than he shoots on non-transition 3s. Oddly, he is the only one of the Orange’s four shooters whose 3-point percentage gets better in transition. Malachi Richardson drops nearly 10 percentage points, Michael Gbinije drops five and Trevor Cooney drops one on transition 3s compared to non-transition.Why this matters: Yesterday’s stat of the day was that Syracuse is shooting 36.3 percent since a hot start at Louisville last Wednesday. Jim Boeheim has said his team is getting good shots and just not making them, but it couldn’t hurt to key on high-percentage looks to snap out of the funk. As shown above, a Tyler Lydon transition 3 is one of those “high-percentage” looks, and I’d imagine that SU will be looking for this whenever it can.Feb. 22: Syracuse started 6-for-13 from the field to jump out to an 18-6 lead in the first half of a 72-58 loss to Louisville on Wednesday. Jim Boeheim says he’s team’s shooting has gone cold in the game and a half since, and the Orange shot a combined 32-for-88 in the rest of that contest and the entirety of its 66-52 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday. That’s a 36.3 percent shooting clip in 69:51 of game time. Why this matters: There is an inclination with this Syracuse team to quickly point to rebounding and frontcourt issues when it isn’t playing well. And while Boeheim does nod to those shortcomings in such situations, he’s remained steadfast in saying that SU can’t shoot poorly and expect to have any chance at beating good teams. That was certainly the case in losses to Louisville and Pittsburgh, and now the Orange has a week to regain its shooting stroke before welcoming N.C. State on Saturday.Feb. 21: Syracuse finished with 19 made field goals in a 66-52 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday, and 20 made field goals in a 72-61 loss to the Panthers on Dec. 30. Those are tied for the second and third lowest totals of the season, respectively, showing that Pitt’s tight man-to-man defense flusters the Orange. But that hasn’t necessarily been the case across the ACC, as Pittsburgh ranks an average seventh in the conference in field goal percentage defense (46.4) and 10th in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense (34.8). Why this matters: The biggest way this will matter moving forward is if Syracuse meets Pittsburgh in the ACC or NCAA Tournament. Other than that, it just shows that defenses that hedge hard on ball screens and force the ball out of guards’ hands are going to hold the Orange in check. That’s exactly what the Panthers did for the whole game on Saturday, and the offensive result for SU was a rather ugly one.Feb. 20: Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney and Malachi Richardson combined for 19 points in Syracuse’s 66-52 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday, which was by far the trio’s lowest collective total of the season. Their next lowest was 34 points in a 62-40 win over Boston College on Jan. 13. Against the Panthers, Gbinije scored 10 points, Richardson scored six and Cooney finished with three. Why this matters: Pittsburgh does a great job guarding ball screens, and that was evident when looking at the final lines of Gbinije, Cooney and Richardson. On the season, the trio averages a combined 37 points per game and is the constant fuel behind the Orange offense. But it was far from that on Saturday, and it’s hard to imagine that SU can win a game when their collective total is fewer than 30 points.Feb. 19: Freshman guard Frank Howard played a season-high 23 minutes in Syracuse’s loss to No. Louisville on Wednesday, and Jim Boeheim said after that he wants Howard to look for more scoring opportunities. Howard hasn’t been successful in doing so so far this season. On the season, he’s shooting 23.9 percent from the field (11-for-46) and 6.7 percent from 3 (1-for-15). In ACC play, he’s shooting 18.2 percent from the field (4-for-22) and 12.5 percent from 3 (1-for-8). Why this matters: Click here for a recent article on Howard’s contributions to Syracuse, and where he can still greatly improve his game.Feb. 18: No. 18 Louisville scored 34 points in the paint in the second half of a 72-58 win over the Orange on Wednesday. That was more than nine of Syracuse’s second-half totals this season, including the 31 points it scored in the second against the Cardinals. Why this matters: Syracuse’s frontcourt took a significant step backward after a string of convincing performances during an 8-1 stretch. Led by Chinanu Onuaku — the brother of former Syracuse center Arinze Onuaku — the Cardinals dominated the Orange in the paint and made its three-man frontcourt look like the unit that held back SU during its 0-4 start to ACC play. With four important games coming up, all against teams with big frontcourts, Syracuse will need to hope the Louisville game didn’t restart an early-season trend.Feb. 17: Syracuse has gotten much better at limiting offensive rebounds as the season’s wore on, but it could become a problem again at Louisville on Wednesday. The Cardinals’40.5  offensive rebounding percentage ranks third in the country and, expectedly, first in the ACC. Since allowing 18 offensive rebounds to Pittsburgh in its ACC opener, the Orange has only allowed one team (Duke) grab more than 15. Louisville has finished with 15 or more rebounds seven times this season. Why this matters: Syracuse hasn’t been burned on the offensive boards in its 8-2 stretch since Jim Boeheim returned from suspension, but managing the Cardinals on the offensive glass will be the main decider between whether or not it can leave Kentucky with a marquee road win.Feb. 16: At the start of the season, Tyler Lydon’s high 3-point-shooting percentage could in large part be attributed to a low number of attempts. But he’s maintained a 44.7 percent clip from long range while getting more and more aggressive — he surpassed 75 attempts on the season Sunday — ranking him and that percentage ranks fourth in the ACC and 58th in the country. During Syracuse’s current five-game winning streak, Lydon’s made 50 percent of his 3s (9-for-18) and has taken at least two per game. Why this matters: It’s no secret that a sure-handed Lydon makes the Syracuse offense both more effective and efficient. He’s careful, sometimes to a fault, with his shot selection, and forces opposing big men to defend away from the basket. That opens up gaping driving lanes for his teammates with no rim protector in the paint.Feb. 15: Syracuse has gone to the foul line 16 or more times in each game of its current five-game win streak. In the first 21 games of the season, the Orange shot 15 or fewer free throws seven times. Three of SU’s eight losses came in those seven games. Why this matters: The three losses mentioned in the last sentence above came against North Carolina, Virginia and Miami, the best teams in the ACC along with Louisville. That shows that the best teams have kept the Orange away from the win, which is an evident way to beat an SU team that predicates its offense on 3s. During its five-game win streak heading into a game at Louisville on Wednesday, Syracuse has committed to driving into the lane and has a lot to show for it.Feb. 14: Syracuse’s 75-61 win over Boston College on Sunday was its 13th ACC game, and Malachi Richardson became the first Orange player to collect five or more assists in back-to-back conference games. SU’s 18 total assists was its fourth highest of the season, and tied its ACC-high set in an overtime loss to Clemson on Jan. 5.Why this matters: Syracuse thrived on offense by sharing the ball against the Eagles — 18 of its 24 field goals were assisted on — and Richardson was at the center of that. The freshman wing is heralded for his outside shooting touch, but he’s starting to consistently display an ability to draw defenders and find open teammates while going toward the rim.Feb. 13: Syracuse shot 62 percent from the field on Thursday night, which was its best shooting performance since March 5, 2011 when the Orange shot 71.4 percent from the field in a 107-59 win over Depaul. That is a span of 170 games across six different seasons. Why this matters: It’s unlikely that Syracuse will shoot this well in another game this season — just based on how much of a statistical anomaly it was — but the fact that this team has the potential to “shoot the lights out” to this degree is a promising sign.Feb. 12: Michael Gbinije scored a game-high 22 points in Syracuse’s 85-72 win over Florida State on Thursday night, and he only needed eight field goal attempts to do it (he finished 7-of-8 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3). That was the first time in his career that he’s scored 20-plus points on fewer than 10 shots. He’s scored 13 or more points 34 times in his career, and Thursday was just the fourth time that he was able to do that with fewer than 10 field goal attempts.Why this matters: Syracuse’s offense is at its best when Gbinije is scoring, and Gbinije is scoring at this best when he’s scoring efficiently. This means he is taking the right shots, making most of his attempts (obviously) and drawing enough attention to facilitate to his teammates without having to force stupid looks. All of those are very good things for the Orange and its unquestioned offensive leader.Feb. 11:  Florida State guards Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon are currently averaging a combined 33.5 points per game — Beasley with 17.3 and Bacon with 16.2 — making them (with some season left) the top scoring freshman duo in ACC history. This statistic is courtesy of the ACC, and below is the list of the top five freshman scoring duos that the conference sent out in an email. Beasley, Bacon and the Seminoles take on Syracuse at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome on Thursday.1. Malik Beasley (17.3) and Dwayne Bacon (16.2) (Florida State, 2016) — 33.5 points 2. Mark Price (20.3) and John Salley (11.5) (Georgia Tech, 1983) — 31.83. Johnny Dawkins (18.1) and Mark Alarie (13) (Duke, 1983) — 31.14. Rodney Rogers (16.3) and Randolph Childress (14) (Wake Forest, 1991) — 30.35. Joe Smith (19.4) and Keith Booth (10.8) (Maryland, 1994) — 30.2Why this matters: For starters, this matters because Syracuse has to face the Seminoles and do its best to control this dynamic duo on Thursday night. Looking past that, ACC fans are getting treated to a rare case in which two ultra-talented freshman are sharing the spotlight and making their team better because of it.Feb. 10: Florida State’s defensive turnover percentage of 10.1 ranks third in the ACC and 68th in the country, according to Kenpom, but it will have to be more focused on taking care of the basketball against Syracuse on Thursday. The Seminoles committed just six turnovers in a 20-point win over Wake Forest on Saturday, but it was the first time since Jan. 2 (nine games) that they committed fewer than 10 turnovers. In seven of those games, FSU gave the ball away 14 or more times. The Orange’s defensive steals percentage of 12.3 ranks first in the ACC and eighth in the country heading into the teams’ meeting in the Carrier Dome. Why this matters: Syracuse wins when its defense plays well, and taking the ball away from its opponent can be a very big part of that. The Orange is 7-2 when forcing teams to commit 14 or more turnovers this season which is something, evidently, that Florida State is prone to doing. Look for turnovers to be a big factor in this Thursday’s night game, and for that to play in SU’s favor.Feb. 9: It never hurts when Syracuse’s guards help out on the defensive glass, but they will really need to do so against Florida State. FSU freshman guards Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley have been impressively productive as offensive rebounders this season. Hoop-Math defines a “Putback” as a shot made within four seconds of an offensive rebound, and Beasley leads the Seminoles with 17 putbacks while Bacon has 16. By comparison, Michael Gbinije (who stands 6 feet, 7 inches) has 11 putbacks this season while Trevor Cooney has two. Louisville’s starting backcourt of Trey Lewis and Damion Lee, which is arguably the best in the ACC this season, has a combined seven putbacks on the year.Why this matters: When guards like Beasley and Bacon are finding success on the offensive glass, it’s usually because the players guarding them are skipping out on their rebounding duties and not bothering to box them out on the perimeter. In the zone, Gbinije and Cooney will need to make sure they’re locating these two guys to impede their path to offensive rebounds and keep Florida State from scoring too many “cheap” buckets.Feb. 8: Michael Gbinije’s 17.2 points per game rank fifth in the ACC, but he’s one of only two players in the conference to score in double-figures in every game this season. The other is Florida State freshman guard Malik Beasley (fourth in the conference at 17.3 points per game), who will visit the Carrier Dome with the Seminoles on Thursday night. Anthony “Cat” Barber, who ranks first in the ACC with 23.5 points per contest, scored nine points in a loss to North Carolina on Jan. 16 and has scored in double-figures in every other Wolfpack game. Why this matters: Gbinije, remarkably, has maintained this consistency while playing 38 minutes a game (which is second in the ACC behind Barber). The most tangible reason why this matters is that Syracuse has a constant source of points. The less tangible reason is that teams cannot afford to let their guard down on Gbinije when he’s on the court, which is all of the time, and consistent scoring opportunities for his teammates have directly resulted from that.Feb. 7:  Syracuse is 12-1 this season when its opponents shoot 40 percent or less from the field — and that includes the Orange’s recent wins over Wake Forest, then-No. Duke, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. This may seem like an obvious statistic, but it shows that Jim Boeheim isn’t just reverting to cliches when he says SU is winning because of its defense. The Orange is 6-1 in its last seven games and it’s not because of its offense, which ranks 13th out of 15 ACC teams. Why this matters: Didn’t someone once say that defense wins championships? I’m not saying Syracuse is heading in that direction, but it certainly has the “defense” part down.Feb. 6: While it may seem that Syracuse has started to rely less on 3-pointers, that’s actually far from the case. The Orange — which returns to action at home against Florida State on Thursday — is getting 37.5 percent of its total points from behind the 3-point line, which ranks 23rd in the country and first among ACC teams according to Kenpom. The national average is 29.3 percent, and the next highest rate among ACC teams is 35.3 percent for Boston College (48th in the country). Boston College (62.2) averages the fewest points in the conference and Syracuse (70.3) ranks 13 among 15 ACC teams. Why this matters: Just when you think Syracuse has shaken the notion is that it is a 3-point-chucking team, it is still very much that. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it is inarguably the Orange’s best chance at having a functional offense, but it just shows that SU’s slips into having a more balanced offense have mostly been false advertisements.Feb. 5: It’s no secret that Syracuse has had trouble defending the paint this season, and a close look at how the Orange compares to other ACC teams in this regard shows how deep the problem is. According to Hoop-Math’s defensive splits, SU is the worst among all 15 ACC teams at defending non-transition shots at the rim. Below is a full list of the percentage of non-transition field goal attempts at the rim made against each ACC team.1. Clemson — 44.6 percent2. North Carolina State — 51.2 percent2. Pittsburgh — 51.2 percent4. Florida State — 52 percent5. Louisville — 52.1 percent6. Notre Dame — 52.4 percent7. Duke — 53.7 percent8. Boston College — 54.29. North Carolina — 55.4 percent10. Virginia — 55.7 percent11. Miami — 55.9 percent12. Wake Forest — 56.3 percent13. Georgia Tech — 57 percent14. Virginia Tech — 57.3 percent15. Syracuse — 61.4 percentWhy this matters: With no free agency or trade deadline in college basketball, Syracuse’s current frontcourt is the frontcourt it will have to make a playoff push with. Between Tyler Lydon, Tyler Roberson and Dajuan Coleman, the group can do a lot of effective things (mostly on the offensive end). But defending the rim is certainly not one of them, and it makes you think that the Orange’s season prospects rest on how much the other parts of its game can outweigh the lack of a rim protector.Feb. 4: Syracuse is 6-1 in its last seven ACC games, which is the Orange’s best conference stretch since it started 25-0 in 2013–14. In the last seven games, SU has roads wins over Wake Forest and then-No 20. Duke, and beaten then-No. 25 Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech at home. Why this matters: As Syracuse has rebounded from it’s 0-4 start to ACC play this season — which tied the worst start to conference play in Jim Boeheim’s 40-year tenure — the rhetoric surrounding the team is that it’s making due with what it has and, for the most part, winning in spite of itself. That really hasn’t been the case in the last seven games, and this Orange team seems to be proving that it may just be good.Feb. 3: Syracuse’s 11 team assists in its 68-60 overtime win over Virginia Tech on Tuesday was the fewest the Orange has had in a win this season. That’s also SU’s fourth lowest assists total of the season, a product of Syracuse making 20 field goals (the fewest it’s finished a game with in ACC play). Why this matters: If nothing else, Syracuse’s low number of assists in an eight-point overtime win shows how talented its guards are. All of Michael Gbinije, Malachi Richardson and Trevor Cooney are capable of breaking down defenders off the dribble and creating their own shots. That was a key factor in the Orange’s win over the Hokies, which was its third ACC win in five days.Feb 2: Read this article by fellow beat writer Matt Schneidman, which looks at how effectively Malachi Richardson has rebounded from bad first halves this season.Why this matters: For starters, Richardson’s ability to shake off poor first halves and dominate in the second is a sign of maturity. I’m sure Syracuse would rather the freshman start fast and stretch strong performances across wholes game — because the Orange offense is better when he’s scoring — but bouncing back to score double-figures in the second half, and subsequently “crunch time,” is the next best thing. In the story, Schneidman explains how Richardson commits himself to going to the rim when he shoots poorly in the first half, which also shows growth and awareness.Feb. 1: Virginia Tech’s offensive free-throw rate of 51.6 percent is the second highest in the nation, according to Kenpom. That doesn’t bode well for a Syracuse team — which hosts the Hokies on Tuesday — that can’t afford to have any players in foul trouble. Additionally, SU is 3-6 this year when its opponent attempts 20 or more free throws. Why this matters: It’s not secret that the free-throw line offers high-percentage scoring opportunities, and Virginia Tech is one of the best in the country at giving itself those. That could prove a little harder to do against the Syracuse 2-3 zone, but the Orange’s bigs have been known to get themselves in some foul trouble this season. Dajuan Coleman fouled out against Georgia Tech on Saturday and there have been times this season where Tyler Lydon or Tyler Roberson have also been too aggressive. The Hokies will look to put the SU frontcourt in a similar situation, and how the Orange responds will be a big factor in the game.JanuaryJan. 31: Frank Howard recorded a season- and career-high six assists in 14 minutes of Syracuse’s 60-57 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday, and he next has to develop something resembling a consistent scoring touch. Howard is 1-for-14 from the field in ACC play, 1-for-13 from 3 on the season and, according to Hoop-Math, 1-for-12 on 2-point shots (which the site classifies as any shot not from 3 or in the paint). Jim Boeheim quipped after the game Saturday that Howard will play more if he stops taking 10-foot floaters, and that 1-for-12 rate from mid-range is exactly what the head coach is talking about.Why this matters: Howard could be a key player for Syracuse moving forward, but that won’t happen unless he is somewhat of a scoring threat. He stands 6 feet, 4 inches and has no trouble getting inside off the dribble. but he hasn’t established a touch in or around the lane in limited playing time. It’s likely that he won’t get the necessary playing time to develop his scouring touch in games, so Howard will need to bring it when called upon and produce right away to let his court vision and rangy defense stay on the court.Jan. 30:  Syracuse attempted 18 3s in its 60-57 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday, and it was just the fourth time this season that the Orange took fewer than 20 shots from beyond the arc. SU’s six made 3s also tied its fourth lowest total of the season, and it is now 3-2 in games in which it makes six 3s or fewer. Two of those wins — at home against Elon and Boston College — weren’t so impressive. The tight win over the visiting Yellow Jackets was. Why this matters: Georgia Tech is much better than its 2-6 ACC record indicates, so this shows that Syracuse is capable of beating a solid team without relying on the 3-point shot. This season has shown us that doing so is a shaky formula, but the Orange is not as one-dimensional as it was thought to be at the start of this season.Jan. 29: Syracuse made 15-of-16 free throws in an 81-66 win over No. 25 Notre Dame on Thursday night, which was its best percentage in any game this season (93.8). The 15 made free throws were its ninth highest this season, with a season-high 24 (out of 39) coming in a win over Connecticut on Nov. 26. Why this matters: Because free throws do. It may be a cliche, but how a team performs at the foul line can sometimes be the difference in a close game. It wasn’t necessarily a tight contest on Thursday, but Syracuse showed that it can shoot a high percentage at the line which will bode SU well as it sinks deeper into ACC play.Jan. 28: Notre Dame commits 9.2 turnovers per game, which is the fewest average in the country. But the Fighting Irish will be without starting point guard Demetrius Jackson when they face Syracuse on Thursday, which could lead to a few more turnovers than usual. The Orange’s defensive steal percentage of 13 is the fifth highest in the country, according to Kenpom, and its defensive turnover percentage of 20.7 ranks 56th. Why this matters: Syracuse, like most teams, benefits from forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. That has been extremely hard to do against No. 25 Notre Dame this season, but could get substantially easier with floor general Demetrius Jackson sidelined with a hamstring injury.Jan. 27: Syracuse center Dajuan Coleman’s 6.76 fouls per 40 minutes is the second highest rate in the ACC, according to Kenpom. The highest belongs to 7-foot-3 Florida State center Boris Bojanovsky, who commits 6.93 fouls per 40. After Coleman, the Orange’s next most frequent “fouler” is Tyler Lydon, whose 3.61 fouls per 40 minutes ranks 34th in the conference.Why this matters: Coleman is playing just 16.6 minutes per game, which is by far the fewest in SU’s regular six-man rotation. But it never helps Syracuse when he’s in foul trouble, even if he isn’t playing all that often to begin with. Coleman seems to play on a matchup-by-matchup basis, and if there is a big post player that only he can guard he needs to be able to do so without worry about fouling out. If he’s defending hesitantly because of fouls, the hypothetical strong post scorer may as well be manned by the skinny Tyler Lydon, which often ends up being the case.Jan. 26: It’s been reported that Notre Dame point guard Demetrius Jackson won’t play against Syracuse on Thursday, which certainly makes a win more attainable for the Orange. Jackson is averaging 16 points and five assists per game this season, and has been one of the most valuable guards in the country. But SU has fared well against starting point guards in ACC play. They’ve scored 9.8 points per game and accounted for just 15 percent of the total points scored against the Orange in eight conference contests. And even those numbers are slightly skewed, as Duke doesn’t start a “traditional” point guard so I counted Grayson Allen as the primary ball-handler in the Blue Devils lineup. Below is a breakdown of how each starting point guard has played against the Orange this season.James Robinson (Pittsburgh): 8 points, 2-for-9Angel Rodriguez (Miami): 3 points, 1-for-9Avery Holmes (Clemson): 12 points, 4-for-8Marcus Paige (North Carolina): 3 points, 1-for-8Eli Carter (Boston College): 13 points, 5-for-11Codi Miller-McIntyre (Wake Forest): 6 points, 1-for-7Grayson Allen (Duke): 18 points, 7-for-15London Perrantes (Virginia): 16 points, 5-for-9Why this matters: Jackson won’t play against the Orange, which does seem like a break at first. But that doesn’t alleviate the fact that Syracuse has a great amount of trouble against inside scorers, which Notre Dame certainly has in Zach Auguste and Bonzi Colson. Add in the fact that Steve Vasturia, V.J. Beacham and Rex Pflueger (Jackson’s replacement) are all capable shooters and it’s plain to see that a Fighting Irish without Jackson is more than capable of dissecting the zone.Jan. 25: Syracuse’s 73-65 loss on Sunday was the third time this season the Orange didn’t have three or more players score in double-figures. The other two times also resulted in losses — a 13-point defeat at Miami on Jan. 2 and an eight-point overtime loss at home to Wisconsin on Dec. 2. Against the Cavaliers, Michael Gbinije scored 24 points and Malachi Richardson scored 23. After that, Cooney scored the next highest total with 8 and shot 3-of-12 from the field and 2-of-8 from 3. Why this matters: The onus isn’t completely on Cooney here. Yes, he is expected to score in double-figures and didn’t do Syracuse an favors by failing to reach that mark on Sunday. But Tyler Roberson, coming off a 14-point, 20-rebound performance against Duke last Monday, put up just six points.Jan. 24:  It’s been 788 days since Daily Orange sports could not provide live coverage of a Syracuse men’s basketball game. Due to Superstorm Jonas, the beat team can’t travel to Virginia because continued inclement weather has rendered the roads unsafe. The last time was when Syracuse beat Baylor in the finals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Nov. 27, 2013. The Orange faces off with the No. 13 Cavaliers at 7 p.m. on Sunday.Why this matters: The Daily Orange prides itself in providing live, comprehensive of Syracuse men’s basketball, football and men’s lacrosse. It pains us to not be there when the Orange takes on Virginia, but we’ll do our best to give you updates and analysis from Syracuse on this very rare occasion.Jan. 23: Syracuse’s team steals percentage of 13.1 ranks third in the country, according to Kenpom, only trailing West Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth. Those are two teams known for their press-up-on-you man-to-man defenses, while the Orange collects its steals by clogging passing lanes and anticipating cross-court passes in the 2-3 zone. With Virginia’s half-court defense being particularly stingy, it would do SU well to pile up the takeaways on Sunday.Why this matters: It’s never easy to score against the Cavaliers when the game slows down, so Syracuse has to do its best to speed up play by getting in transition. That is most easily done off steals, and the Orange has clearly prove that it’s capable of taking the ball away from its opponents. That will be an important factor in SU and Virginia’s 7 p.m. meeting Sunday, especially since UVA is adept at taking care of the ball.Jan. 22: Virginia’s pac-line defense often forces teams to shoot late in the shot clock, and Syracuse has an effective field goal percentage of 37 percent in the last five seconds of the shot clock this season, according to Hoop-Math. It’s highest-percentage late-possession options — backed by very small sample sizes — are Malachi Richardson going to the rim (3-for-4) and Michael Gbinije pulling up for mid-range jumpers (6-for-11). The Orange is shooting 23.9 percent from 3 in those situations, proving that it should look elsewhere when possessions wind down.Why this matters: It’s inevitable that Syracuse will find itself in these situations a number of times on Sunday. The Cavaliers make a living forcing teams to take bad shots, either late in the shot clock or in an attempt to speed up play. The Orange hasn’t been a good 3-point-shooting team when pressured late in possessions, but other options (laid out above) have been successful in small doses.Jan. 21: Teams average 19.1 seconds per possession against Virginia this season, which is the third highest among 351 Division I teams. Teams average 19.4 seconds per possession against Syracuse, which ranks as the highest in the country. The Cavaliers also have one of the slowest-paced offenses in the country — 19.4 seconds per possession — while the Orange is a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of tempo.Why this matters: A road win at No. 13 Virginia on Saturday would be a huge resume booster for Syracuse, and it looks like it may need to speed up its offense in order to capture it. The Cavaliers have one of the most heralded defenses in the country, and that is evidenced by teams’ long possessions that often end without good looks. SU doesn’t have a great half-court offense, and pushing the tempo against UVA could be its best change at high-percentage shots. It’s unlikely that Virginia will look to play faster than most teams against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, and that bodes well for the Orange on that end of the court.Jan. 20: Jim Boeheim has called each of Syracuse’s last two wins the best defensive performance of his team’s season, with Monday’s win over No. 20 Duke trumping Saturday’s defeat of Wake Forest in his eyes. The numbers certainly prove Boeheim right regarding the Orange’s perimeter defense, as SU’s opponents’ 3-point percentage of 28.9 is currently 11th worst in the country. According to Kenpom, 32.2 of the point scored against Syracuse this season have come from beyond the arc. That ranks as the 76th most among 351 Division I programs, and shows that teams are naturally looking to beat the zone from the outside. The Orange, especially as of late, is making sure that’s not an effective formula even if it remains the most logical one. Why this matters: The ACC is a very good offensive conference, and Syracuse will need to keep up its strong perimeter defense if it wants to stay competitive past its current three-game winning streak. Upcoming opponents like No. 13 Virginia (Saturday) and Notre Dame (next Thursday) are more than capable of burning the 2-3 zone from the perimeter, and the Orange’s best bet at beating these teams is to keep forcing contested jumpers late in the shot clock.Jan. 19: Tyler Roberson tied a Syracuse record with 12 offensive rebounds in the Orange’s 64-62 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Monday night. He finished with 20 total rebounds, which was the most ever for a visiting player at Duke. Factoring both of those things, it could be considered the best rebounding performance by an SU player since the start of the 2010 season. Below are the five best individual rebounding games in that time, with offensive rebounds in parentheses.1. Rick Jackson (Win over Detroit Mercy in November 2010) — 22 (8)2. Tyler Roberson (Win over Duke on Monday) — 20 (12)3. Tyler Roberson (Win over Virginia Tech in January 2015) — 17 (8)4. Rick Jackson (Win over Providence in December 2010) — 17 (1)5. Tyler Roberson (Win over Louisiana Tech in November 2014) — 16 (7)Why this matters: Roberson was the main catalyst behind Syracuse’s two-point win over the Blue Devils, and that almost wholly due to his ferocious offensive rebounding. Roberson not only helped himself climb to 14 points by crashing the offensive glass, but also gave the SU offense a number of second-chance opportunities. Earlier in the season it was the Orange getting bullied by springy rebounders, and Roberson is helping his team flip that script on its head.Jan. 18: According to Hoop-Math, Tyler Roberson has 28 unassisted field goals at the rim this season. There are 12 games left in the regular season — starting with Syracuse’s date at Duke on Monday night — and he had 25 unassisted field goals at the rim all of last year. He also shoots a team-best 65.9 percent at the rim, according to Hoop-Math. This not only shows how effective Roberson has been as an offensive rebounder, but also how the junior attacked the rim off the dribble with more regularity, confidence and success. Why this matters: Last year, Syracuse’s offense was centered around Rakeem Christmas and that often forced defenses to leave Roberson open in the middle of the floor. This year the offense has shifted to the perimeter but opposing teams are playing Roberson in a similar way. By pushing out to the perimeter and defending driving lanes with weak-side defenders, Roberson’s “spot” in the high post is often the soft spot that defenses don’t pay as much attention to. That has left him one-on-one with defenders on many occasions, and he’s starting to take advantage by using his athleticism to attack the rim.Jan. 17: Tyler Roberson has scored in double figures in five of Syracuse’s six conference games after doing so in just four of 13 non-conference games. In ACC play, the power forward is averaging 12.2 points per game and shooting 55.3 percent from the field. In the Orange’s 83-55 win over Wake Forest on Saturday, Roberson scored 16 points and 13 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season.Why this matters: When Roberson is putting the ball in the basket, Syracuse is naturally a way better offense. That may seem like a type-A statement, but consider that Roberson has had trouble confidently shooting his jump shot, and making decisions in the flow of the offense, for the better part of the last year and a half. Now he’s asserting himself into SU’s half-court offense, and the byproduct against the Demon Deacons was the Orange tying its season-high with 83 points.Jan. 16: Wake Forest’s 19.5 team turnover percentage ranks 245th in the country, and last among ACC teams, according to Kenpom. That starts with freshman guard Bryant Crawford, who has proven himself mistake-prone during an impressive start to his college career. Crawford has committed four or more turnovers in six games this season. His particularly rough performances include seven turnovers in a loss to Richmond on Nov. 18, eight in a win over Indiana on Nov. 23 and seven in a win over Arkansas on Dec. 4. Why this matters: Wake Forest, as a team, makes a lot of mistakes and that could help Syracuse get high-percentage transition shots when the teams clash on Saturday. That could be a very important factor in the game if the Orange isn’t shooting well from 3. If SU is shooting well and forcing turnovers at the same time, that could mean a relatively painless road win in Winston-Salem.Jan. 15:  Wake Forest center Devin Thomas, who leads the Demon Deacons in scoring at 16.9 points per game and is one of the best inside presences in the ACC, draws 8.2 fouls per 40 minutes. That is the sixth highest rate in the country, according to Kenpom, and will be a factor against the Orange. SU only has three reliable frontcourt players in Dajuan Coleman, Tyler Roberson and Tyler Lydon, and can’t afford to have any of them in foul trouble. All three have been at times this season, most notably when Coleman fouled out against Pittsburgh on Dec. 30 and gave way to a game-clinching Panthers run without him on the court. Why this matters: Not only would fouling Thomas likely put one of these three players in foul trouble, but it also provides the center with easy scoring opportunities. The Orange defense has been up and down this season, but one thing it can’t afford to do is offer too many high-percentage shots at the free-throw line. That can be said for any defense, but Jim Boeheim has said that Syracuse’s margin for error is slim and that holds true in this regard. Thomas is going to go right at SU’s big men, and they’ll have to stay disciplined if the Orange wants to compete in Winston Salem.Jan. 14: In Syracuse’s 62-40 win over Boston College on Wednesday, the Eagles’ 15  field goals tied for the lowest of any SU opponent this season (tying Lehigh, which the Orange beat on opening night). BC also attempted just 47 field goals, the fewest number of shots a team has taken against Syracuse this season. Boston College shot 31.9 from the field, the fourth worst clip against the Orange this season in front of Elon, Cornell and Lehigh. Why this matters: It was very important for Syracuse to get its first ACC win against the Eagles, but it wasn’t too big of an accomplishment given how BC shot in the game. Jim Boeheim and the SU players weren’t celebrated a major victory after the game or anything, it’s just worth noting that there probably won’t be any more “easy” wins like this in the conference schedule. That is, of course, until the Orange visits Boston College on Feb. 14.Jan. 13: The Syracuse men’s basketball managers fell to Boston College’s managers, 41-40, in the Carmelo K. Anthony Center late Tuesday night. In the loss, SU sophomore center Patrick Herlihy posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Syracuse managers have now received at least one double-double in every game in team history. To be clear, Tuesday was the first. Why this matters: The SU basketball program just has to hope that this isn’t an omen for the actual Syracuse-Boston College game on Wednesday night.Jan. 12: According to Kenpom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, Syracuse’s 17 opponents this season score an adjusted 105.9 points per 100 possessions. That makes the Orange’s schedule, to date, the 27th hardest in the country in terms of opposing offenses. Boston College, SU’s Wednesday opponent, scores an adjusted 94.4 points per 100 possessions, which ranks 315 out of 351 Division I teams. Syracuse’s biggest obstacle this season has been going punch-for-punch with high-octane offenses, and it doesn’t look like the Eagles will, or can, present that kind of problem.Why this matters: The bottom line is that Syracuse needs an ACC win. It’s 0-4 in the conference and Boston College is the league’s consensus worst team. Analytically, the Orange stacks up well here because of the Eagles’ unimpressive offense. SU should be able to handle BC with its zone and then make enough shots in the first half, and early in the second, to make this a relatively painless competition. But nothing’s been painless for Syracuse this season so, as always, we’ll have to see how the numbers play out.Jan. 11: According to Hoop-Math, 21.6 percent of Syracuse’s total shots have come in transition this season. That ranks 169th nationally, around the middle of the 351 Division I teams, and I generally use transition shots to measure a team’s pace of play. But the Orange is well below average nationally in transition shooting, with its effective field goal percentage on transition shots of 49.1 ranking 304th in the country. SU hasn’t rebounded well enough to get out on the break as much as it may like, but it also hasn’t made the most of the transition opportunities it has created.Why this matters: Put simply, Syracuse needs to shoot better in transition. Its offense is not good enough to have the 304th best effective field goal percentage on transition shots, and the answer may not be as simple as doing one or two things differently. All the Orange can do is focus on attacking the rim when possible and knocking down transition 3s when the numbers aren’t completely in its favor. Cooney and Richardson have been subpar on transition 3s this year, and that also plays into the team’s overall success on the break.Jan. 10: North Carolina forward Brice Johnson set a career high with eight assists in the No. 6 Tar Heels’ 84-73 win over Syracuse on Saturday night. His previous career high was four assists against Oakland on Nov. 8, 2013. He had never finished with more than three against an ACC team. Johnson came into the game as UNC’s leading scorer and finished with 16 points while shooting 7-of-11 from the floor, but he did most of his damage distributing to the block out of the high post. UNC made just 3-of-16 3s in the contest, and Johnson was instrumental in its 84-point effort without stuffing the box score with points. Why this matters: Coming into the game, North Carolina was (and remained) a team that liked to work the ball inside. The Orange knew this, and was even bailed out by the fact that UNC could not hit from beyond the arc. But once the ball got into the high post Syracuse had no answer for Johnson’s pass to the block, which usually found Isaiah Hicks while he piled up his team-high 21 points.Jan. 9: North Carolina’s offensive rebounding percentage of 39 is the 11th best in the nation, according to Kenpom. It’s also better than every team the Orange has faced so far this season, and SU’s 36.1 defensive rebounding percentage currently ranks 328 out of 351 Division I teams. Syracuse’s only tougher defensive rebounding test looks to be Louisville — which the Orange faces on Feb. 17 — and its 43.6 offensive rebounding percentage, which ranks second nationally.Why this matters: Syracuse will face a tough enough test guarding the Tar Heels straight up, so having a handful of UNC players crashing the offensive glass adds another problem to the list of things the Orange will have to worry about on Saturday. Between Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Joel James, UNC is better equipped than just about any team in the country to bully SU inside and decided this one in the paint, if nowhere else.Jan. 8: North Carolina’s average possession length of 14.6 seconds is the 11th lowest in the country, according to Kenpom. Syracuse, a team that says it wants to play fast when possible, averages 17 seconds a possession, right around the national average. The Tar Heels breakneck pace is a big factor in its juggernaut offense, which ranks second in Kenpom’s adjusted offensive efficiency with 120.4 points per 100 possessions. Why this matters: The Orange is decent in transition, and really struggles to score in its half-court offense, but can’t fall into the trap of trying to run up and down with UNC. The Tar Heels make a living off transition basketball, looking for 3s on the wing and for its athletic bigs streaking down the middle of the floor. If SU lets North Carolina speed up to the way it wants to play, it’s hard to imagine the Orange competing well past halftime on Saturday.Jan. 7: After Syracuse’s loss to St. John’s on Dec. 13, Michael Gbinije was shooting an astounding 50.7 percent from 3 on the season (34-for-67). In the six games since, Gbinije has made 12-of-49 and his season average has dipped to 39.7 percent. Gbinije shot 34.9 percent from deep in 2014–15 and 39.2 percent last year, and he’s regressed to his 3-point-shooting mean through 16 games of this season. Why this matters: Syracuse has not wavered from its 3-point-shooting-focused offense, but it has gotten less effective as Gbinije’s come down off his early-season shooting high. The Orange could have never expected the fifth-year point guard to shoot 50 percent (or over) for the whole season, but it added a much-needed layer to an SU offense that not only lives and dies by the 3, but also by Gbinije’s production.Jan. 6: In a 74-73 overtime to Clemson on Tuesday night, Syracuse centers Dajuan Coleman and Tyler Lydon scored a combined four points in 55 total minutes. Coleman, SU’s starting center, played 13 minutes and finished with zero points. Lydon played 38 minutes, mostly at center, and scored four points while shooting 1-for-6 from the field, 1-for-5 from 3 and 1-for-2 from the free-throw line. Tigers centers Landry Nnoko and Sidy Djitte scored a combined 25 points in just 45 total minutes. Nnoko scored 19 points, shooting 7-for-11 from the field and 5-for-5 from the line, and fouled out after 33 minutes. Djitte scored six, shooting an efficient 3-for-3, in 12 minutes of action.Why this matters: Syracuse simply has to get more production out of the center spot, even if it’s a marginal increase. It will mostly have to come from Lydon — because Coleman isn’t seeing the minutes or making the consistent improvements to score a lot inside — but they should be able to score a combined 10 points every game. That’s asking each player to score a minimum five each, a feat neither could complete against Clemson in a third straight ACC loss.Jan. 5: Clemson’s team block percentage of 15.8 ranks 10th in the country, according to Kenpom,and Syracuse welcomes the Tigers to the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night. It’s also the second best rate among ACC teams, with Louisville ranking ninth nationally with a block rate of 15.9. The Tigers’ interior defense is led by 6-foot-10 center Landry Nnoko, whose personal 12.4 block percentage ranks 12th in the nation and second in the ACC behind N.C. State’s Beejay Anya (13.1).Why this matters: When Syracuse has gone cold from the outside this season, it shifts its perimeter-focused offense to attack the rim. That’s not too good of an option against Clemson, with Nnoko and 6-foot-7 power forward Jaron Blossomgame protecting the rim well for the Tigers this season. This puts a heavy emphasis on SU making shots early in the game, because if it doesn’t, Clemson can pack in its defense and dare the Orange to beat it inside. Odds say that won’t be the formula for a successful offensive performance on Tuesday night. Facebook Twitter Google+ Dec. 15: Tyler Roberson’s 49.3 free-throw rate, which weighs a player’s free-throw attempts against field-goal attempts to measure how many free throws he generates relative to how often he tries to score, leads Syracuse. But he’s also shooting a team-worst 48.6 from the line, making just 18-of-37 free-throw attempts to limit his production there despite drawing fouls at a high rate. Roberson made just 1-of-8 free throws in the Orange’s 84-72 loss to St. John’s on Sunday. Overall, SU shot 19-of-31 from the line, which was the literal difference in the game. Why this matters: The free-throw line is home of high-percentage scoring opportunities. Roberson is clearly good at gaining those opportunities, but no player on Syracuse is worse at converting them. This doesn’t mean that Roberson should stop aggressively attacking the rim, because that forces teams to respect him as an offensive option and he should still be trying to get to the foul line. He just needs to improve his free-throw shooting to make his aggression help even more, even if it was just closer to 60 percent. For the Orange, it isn’t too much to ask for a player who is continually developing his mid-range jump shot.Dec. 14: Syracuse gave up 12 3s to St. John’s in an 84-72 loss on Sunday, which was the fourth time an opposing team made 10 or more 3s this season. That mark comes with three games left in non-conference play, and a month and a half earlier than last season. Last year, the Orange gave up 10 or more 3s in a game for the fourth time in a loss to Miami on Jan. 24. That was also the last time a team did so for the rest of the season.Why this matters: Mike Hopkins put it simply after the loss to the Red Storm: Part of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone is taking away 3-pointers, and the Orange hasn’t been doing that in recent games. St. John’s lived on the perimeter on Sunday, using a double-high offense to suck in SU’s wings and then distribute to open shooters. It helped that SJU shot a remarkable 12-for-24 from 3, but the main takeaway is most of them were open looks that the Orange can’t afford to give up.Dec. 13: St. John’s 19.3 block percentage is the best in the country heading into Sunday, according to Kenpom. Block percentage measures how many possible 2-point field goals a team or player blocks. The Red Storm’s defense is anchored by 6-foot-11 freshman center Yankuba Sima, whose 13.1 block percentage ranks 10th in the country. Sima has blocked three or more shots in St. John’s’ last four games. Why this matters: When Syracuse has struggled from 3 this season, it’s turned to a dribble-drive offense that has proven very effective. But St. John’s doesn’t give up much at the rim, especially with Sima often camping out in the paint. The Orange will need to use Tyler Roberson or Tyler Lydon to try and get Sima away from the paint, so other St. John’s will be forced to help off shooters on the perimeter. If SU can’t get Sima away from the rim, the Red Storm’s guards will be able to stay close to the Orange’s shooters and force them to take contested shots.Dec. 12: According to Hoop Math, Trevor Cooney has 28 assists this season (second most on the team) and 53.6 percent of them have come in transition. Michael Gbinije, leading the team with 41 assists, has had 26.8 percent of his come in transition. Cooney, who is pushing the ball more than he ever has, is doing a good job seeing the open court and making the extra pass when the Orange has a numbers advantage.Why this matters: Syracuse likes to play in transition — and is rather good at it — and it helps the transition offense to have a second point guard of sorts. Gbinije is Syracuse’s named starting point guard, but Cooney has taken the liberty to regularly push the ball this season. That gives Gbinije the opportunity to run the floor and spot up for 3, and Cooney also draws defenders to the perimeter on the break to open up the inside for cutters and running bigs.Dec. 11: Syracuse guards Michael Gbinije and Trevor are first and second in the ACC in steals per game, averaging 2.9 and 1.9, respectively. Gbinije ranks seventh in the country in that category, and is the only player in the conference with more than 20 steals on the season with 26.Why this matters: The Orange offense is at its best in transition, and Gbinije and Cooney are the two best in the ACC at turning takeaways into transition opportunities. It also helps that both of them are capable of pushing the ball themselves, Gbinije as SU’s point guard and Cooney as a multi-talented shooter. As fifth-year seniors, Gbinije and Cooney are great at anticipating passes and playing the angles in Syracuse’s zone, and it’s paying dividends through nine games.Dec. 10:  Michael Gbinije is leading the ACC with 31 3-pointers through nine games this season. He’s also shooting an astounding 50 percent with 31 makes on 62 attempts. That percentage ranks fifth in the conference, but he has taken notably more 3s than the four players ahead of him. Below is the top five shooters in the ACC by 3-point field goal percentage, which shows that Gbinije has been the best in the conference from deep when considering percentage and number of makes.1. Justin Bibbs (Virginia Tech) — 65.5 percent (19-for-29)2. Sterling Smith (Pittsburgh) — 60.9 percent (14-for-23)3. London Perrantes (Virginia) — 53.8 percent (14-for-26)4. Malik Beasley (Florida State) — 51.6 percent (16-for-31)5. Michael Gbinije (Syracuse) — 50 percent (31-for-62)Why this matters: Syracuse is going to go as Gbinije does this season, and so far Gbinije is going really well. He’s the perfect player to quarterback the Orange’s perimeter-oriented offense, and if he keeps shooting at even close to this rate defenders will need to respect his jump shot more with each passing game. When they do, he’ll be able to carve up defense inside and create for his teammates, most importantly sharpshooters Trevor Cooney and Malachi Richardson.Dec. 9: Colgate shot 10-of-28 from deep in a Syracuse win Tuesday night, and it was the third time in nine games this season that the Orange allowed an opponent to hit 10 or more 3s. SU gave up 10 or more 3s a total of four times in 31 games last season. Why this matters: Syracuse’s shorthanded frontcourt has enough trouble defending the paint, and the Orange has to improve its perimeter defense with conference play just four games away. This team cannot to give up 10 made 3s because its rebounding and interior defense are going to struggle due to its personnel. Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije, two fifth-year seniors, play the top of SU’s zone and should be able to alleviate this problem. If they don’t, it’s going to be a long couple months in central New York.Dec. 8:  Colgate’s defensive free-throw rate of 52.8 rank 340 out of 351 Division I teams, according to Kenpom. If Syracuse is struggling from 3 against the undersized Raiders on Tuesday night, the Orange could use the free-throw line to get its offense going.Statistic definition: Free-throw rate measures an offense’s ability to get to the foul line, and a defense’s ability to keep teams off the foul line. Colgate struggles mightily in the latter.Why this matters: Inferior opponents often pack the paint against Syracuse, and Colgate isn’t particularly good at doing so. The Raiders allow opponents to get to the free-throw line at a nationally-poor rate, which shows that the Orange has a chance at high-percentage scoring opportunities if it is struggling from beyond the arc.Dec. 7: According to Kenpom, Syracuse’s 60.1 assist percentage is currently 51st highest in the country and fourth highest in the ACC. With a 3-point-heavy offense, a lot of the Orange’s scoring opportunities are being created in drive-and-kick situations instead of one-on-ones. Statistic definition: Assist percentage measures how the rate in which a team’s field goals are being assisted on.Why this matters: Syracuse’s guards are capable of getting into gaps and finding players on the perimeter, and they are more apt to doing that then looking to score inside themselves. Syracuse’s high assist percentage is also due to the makeup of its frontcourt, with bigs that are way more likely to catch and score around the rim than create scoring opportunities for themselves.Dec. 6: In Syracuse’s 79-72 loss to Georgetown on Saturday, the Hoyas’ starting backcourt of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and L.J. Peak scored just 14 points. Both are proven scorers and that was 10 fewer points than their combined season averages. But as the Orange took away these perimeter threats, Georgetown’s starting frontcourt of Isaac Copeland, Bradley Hayes and Marcus Derrickson combined for 48 points on on 17-of-28 shooting. Why this matters: Naturally, Syracuse’s 2-3 zone leaves something open. Syracuse was quick to slide to Georgetown’s perimeter threats, but that left Dajuan Coleman and Tyler Lydon relatively alone inside to defend the Hoyas’ bigs.  Saturday was a look into how SU will fare against balanced offense with perimeter and low-post threats, and showed that the Orange doesn’t have a good enough frontcourt for the defense to key on shooters.Dec. 5: Tyler Roberson has grabbed six total rebounds in Syracuse’s last two games, after averaging 12 boards per game in the previous four. The Orange was out-rebounded by both Texas A&M (-8 margin) and Wisconsin (-26) in those games, and lost to the Badgers 66-58 in overtime on Wednesday. Why this matters: Georgetown, like most teams, holds a size advantage over SU and Roberson. That means the Hoyas have a natural rebounding advantage heading into the teams’ 1 p.m. meeting on Saturday, and Roberson needs to step up for Syracuse on the glass. The Orange can’t afford to be out-rebounded by such a wide margin, as the Badgers used its in-paint dominance to win on Wednesday.Dec. 4: Michael Gbinije has been strong atop Syracuse’s zone this season, using his 6-foot-7 frame to be one of the country’s best turnover creators. According to Kenpom, Gbinije’s 5.1 steals percentage is 15th best in the nation and first in the Atlantic Coast Conference so far this season.Statistic definition: Steals percentage measures how many possessions a player gets a steal on when on the court.Why this matters: Syracuse’s offense is at its best when in transition, and steals turn into transition opportunities. As long as Gbinije is anticipating passes and using his long arms to clog passing lanes, the Orange will have the chance to shoot open 3s and attack the rim in the open floor.Dec. 3: Since the start of the 2010–11 season, according to College Basketball Reference, Syracuse’s -26 rebounding margin in its loss to Wisconsin on Wednesday is its worst by eight rebounds. The Orange fell to the Badgers 66-58 in overtime. Its next worst rebounding performance was a -18 margin against Georgetown in 2012, and that was ironically a 64-61 overtime win. Why this matters: While winning the Battle 4 Atlantis, Syracuse was able to mask its rebounding struggles by shooting the lights out. On Wednesday, the Orange shot 7-of-24 from 3 and its thin front court was exposed in the paint when the final score didn’t tilt in its favor. It won’t be the last time this season that SU is out-rebounded, but a -26 margin is letting things get completely out of hand.Dec. 2: Wisconsin is allowing opponents to shoot 45.1 percent from 3 this season. According to Kenpom, ranks 345th out of 351 Division I teams. Syracuse hosts the Badgers at 7:15 p.m. in the Carrier Dome on Wednesday night, and 3s have made up 41.1 percent of the Orange’s total points through six games. According to Kenpom, that ranks 18th out of 351 Division I teams. Why this matters: SU’s offense is built around the 3-point shot and Wisconsin simply can’t defend the perimeter. Maybe Bo Ryan makes the right defensive tweaks to right the ship here, but all signs say that Syracuse will have the chance to shoot the Badgers out of the gym while improving to 7-0.Dec. 1:  According to Hoop-Math, 53.7 percent of Syracuse’s transition field goal attempts have been from 3. But the Orange has been better from deep in non-transition offense, shooting 43.6 percent compared to 33.3 on the break.Why this matters: Syracuse has a really impressive 3-point percentage in the half-court offense, but you’d expect you’d expect a better clip in transition. Making 33.3 percent of good-look 3s isn’t good enough for a team that is going to run more as its opponents get bigger and better later in the season. The Orange is clearly committed to finding shooters on the break, those shooters just need to capitalize on uncontested looks in the open floor.NovemberNov. 30:  According to Hoop-Math, just one of Trevor Cooney’s 11 makes at the rim has been assisted on this season. He’s showcased an improved ability to get past defenders and into the paint, and this shows that, compared to his teammates, he’s giving himself high-percentage scoring opportunities inside.Below is a breakdown of each Orange player with at least five makes at the rim, and what percentage of those makes has been assisted on.Trevor Cooney — 9.1 percent (1-of-11)Michael Gbinije — 50 percent (6-of-12)Tyler Roberson — 52.9 percent (9-of-17)Tyler Lydon — 71.4 percent (5-of-7)Dajuan Coleman — 71.4 percent (5-of-7)Why this matters: Even with Syracuse playing four shooters a lot of the time, teams have still been glued to Cooney on the perimeter because of his reputation as a sniper. He’s counteracted that by going off the dribble more confidently than in past seasons, and is clearly getting himself very good looks when he does.Nov. 29: Picking up where he left off last season, Trevor Cooney’s playing time is among the toughest workloads in the country. According to Kenpom, the fifth-year senior is playing 95.8 percent of possible minutes, which currently ranks seventh in the nation. Below is a list of the major-conference players currently in the country’s top 50 for minutes percentage, which factors in number of games and overtimes to measure just how much time each player is getting.6. Anthony “Cat” Barber (N.C. State): 95.97. Trevor Cooney (Syracuse): 95.817. Malcolm Hill (Illinois): 93.235. Gary Payton Jr. (Oregon State): 90.636. Bryce Alford (UCLA): 90.637. Tre Demps (Northwestern): 90.648. Caleb Martin (North Carolina State): 89.8Why this matters: Only seven power-five players are in the country’s top 50 in minutes percentage, meaning most of “good” teams don’t need to, or simply don’t, play their best players at such a high clip. With Syracuse, Cooney’s minutes percentage is a product of his value and lack of production from its off-the-bench guards. It’s conceivable that if Cooney is going to play 95.8 percent of minutes at the start of the season — with games against Lehigh, St. Bonaventure, Elon and Charlotte — that he’s probably going to shoulder this workload all year long.Nov. 28: Syracuse made 34 total 3s in its three wins at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Here is how that total compares to the best three-game totals from the last five seasons. The three-game totals from past years aren’t in consecutive games, but the three games in which Syracuse made the most 3s that season. By averaging more than 11 3s a game in three straight games, and days, the Orange (6-0) was able to knock off two ranked opponents and prove its legitimacy in the early going.Below is a breakdown showing how Syracuse’s perimeter performance in the Battle 4 Atlantis compares to its hottest shooting nights of the last five seasons. The statistic presented with each game is 3-point field goals made by the Orange, according to College Basketball Reference’s game logs.2015–16 — Battle 4 AtlantisSyracuse 83, Charlotte 70 (Nov. 26, 2015): 14Syracuse 79, Connecticut 76 (Nov. 27, 2015): 9Syracuse 74, Texas A&M 67 (Nov. 28, 2015): 11Total: 342014–15Syracuse 78, Colgate 43 (Dec. 22, 2014): 10Syracuse 70, Florida State 57 (Jan, 11, 2015): 10Syracuse 86, Wake Forest 83 (OT) (Jan. 13, 2015): 9Total: 29 (Five fewer than Battle 4 Atlantis)2013–14Syracuse 93, Binghamton 65 (Dec. 7, 2013): 13Syracuse 82, Cornell 60 (Nov. 8, 2013): 10Syracuse 61, Notre Dame 55 (Feb. 3, 2014): 10Total: 33 (One fewer than Battle 4 Atlantis)2012–13Syracuse 62, Pittsburgh 59 (March 14, 2013): 12Syracuse 91, Arkansas 82 (Nov. 30, 2012): 11Syracuse 108, Monmouth 56 (Dec. 8, 2012): 11Total: 34 (Same as Battle 4 Atlantis)2011–12Syracuse 84, Eastern Michigan 48 (Dec. 29, 2011): 13Cincinnati 71, Syracuse 68 (March 9, 2012): 13Syracuse 88, North Carolina State 72 (Dec. 17, 2011): 11Total: 37 (Three more than Battle 4 Atlantis)2010–11Syracuse 97, Morgan State 55 (Dec. 20, 2010): 12Syracuse 100, Colgate 43 (Dec. 11, 2010): 11Villanova 83, Syracuse 72 (Jan. 22, 2011): 10Total: 33 (One fewer than Battle 4 Atlantis)Why this matters: Syracuse still doesn’t have a proven front court or much depth outside of a six-man rotation. But the Orange can flat out shoot the basketball and that was the key reason why it beat No. 19 Connecticut and No. 25 Texas A&M this past week in Atlantis. Shooting the ball this well, or somewhat close to it, can mask a lot of deficiencies and that’s exactly what it’s done for SU through six games.Nov. 27: After scoring a career-high 20 points in a win over Elon on Saturday, Syracuse power forward Tyler Roberson has committed seven total turnovers in the team’s last two games. Michael Gbinije, the Orange’s point guard and primary ball-handler, had just three total turnovers in the wins over Charlotte and Connecticut. Why this matters: It’s good for Syracuse that Gbinije is cutting down his turnovers, but this statistic shows that Roberson is trying to do too much on offense. He looks to be trying to diversify his game by facing up and attacking defenders off the dribble out of the high post, but he doesn’t have great ball-handling skills or body control when penetrating. The Orange has struggled taking care of the ball through five games, and really can’t afford to have its power forward giving up possessions in limited touches. Syracuse’s offense, and Roberson, is much better when the forward lets the game come to him. Comments Published on November 2, 2015 at 1:08 am DecemberDec. 31: In Syracuse’s 72-61 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Orange forced eight first-half turnovers but just one in the second half. In turn, SU scored nine points off turnovers in the first half and zero in the second. The Panthers scored 11 points off SU’s five second-half turnovers, and that was a key factor in Pitt pulling away in the final five minutes. Why this matters: Pittsburgh is known as a very good passing team, but it’s also great on defense and the Orange needed to play in transition. When Syracuse couldn’t — because the Panthers were limiting their turnovers in the second half — there were limited opportunities on the perimeter and SU had to test itself inside. It worked fine this time, but the Orange still only scored 62 points and needed to create turnovers for more transition opportunities throughout the whole game.Dec. 30: Michael Gbinije is playing a team-high 37.4 minutes per game this season, and has been a consistent scorer when playing 35 or more minutes. The fifth-year guard has played at least 35 minutes 32 times in his college career (all in the last two years with Syracuse), and has scored fewer than 10 points in just two of those games.Why this matters: It seems like Gbinije’s workload isn’t going to soften as Syracuse enters conference play, and it’s important that he continues to produce at a high level every night. Unless the Orange is blowing out an ACC team (which isn’t likely), I’m not sure if there will be a game that he will play fewer than 35 minutes in for the rest of his college career. If he can keep the above trend going, it would be very very impressive, and I expect that he will.last_img

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