Well that game was about as frustrating as they come.
Syracuse snatched defeat from the jaws of victory Saturday in their overtime loss to Villanova. This was one of those games that the Orange should have won in regulation, but even had the Orange been able to pull this one out, the negatives far outweighed the positives. There are multiple things that need work on this team, and Jim Boeheim pointed them all out before this game was even played.
First of all, Syracuse’s shooting was absolutely abysmal throughout this game. The Orange missed their first six shots in the first half, totally just 9 field goals on 30 attempts in the first twenty minutes of play. There were a number of shots around the rim that were missed, and that just can’t happen. Had Syracuse made some easy layups, they are in control of this game and win it easily. With the Syracuse offense struggling so mightily as of late, an adjustment is going to have to be made to prevent certain shots that are going up.
Some of these poor shots are key to the offensive struggles at times. Which leads me to my next point. The decision making at times this season have been terrible as well. These possessions that end in a Carter-Williams forced shot over three defenders without a pass are absolutely killing this team. I love MCW and think he has endless potential, but I believe that he forces the issue way too much at times. I think that the final three minutes are a direct result of his decision making, and that the ball should have gone in Brandon Triche’s hands for every single one of those possessions. Instead we got two turnovers and missed free throws down the stretch, and that is what ultimately sent this game in to overtime where Villanova clinched the win.
A lot of fans are both questioning the strategy of the final three minutes of play, for both taking the air out of the ball and not fouling Ryan Arcidiacono on his three point attempt at the end of regulation.
First, on the strategy of taking the air out of the ball when only up two possessions. The Orange had a six point lead, and it disintegrated when the Orange committed two key turnovers and missed some free throws down the stretch. While I think the approach could have been better, I do not have an issue with taking the air out of the ball and running some clock with that lead. I can see both sides of the argument, but I think it is the right move. The execution of it however, is another story. I think it should be Brandon Triche every single time with that ball in his hands for the drive to the basket, and not Michael Carter-Williams. Triche has the ability to pass the ball if a shot isn’t there for him in that situation, whereas it seems that isn’t in MCW’s mindset. He is one of the best passers on the team, but everyone in the country, including Villanova, knew he was going up for those shots when the shot clock was winding down. On one of his misses, I counted three defenders collapsing on him, and yet the ball still went up off the glass wildly from his hands. This also happened late in the Louisville game, but his defensive play made up for it. Carter-Williams needs to take the game as it comes to him, and not try to create something that isn’t there. He is only a sophomore, but he is expected to be a leader on this team so Syracuse will need better decision making from him despite him being young.
As for the non-foul decision at the end of regulation, I have no problem with that whatsoever. I know the strategy can definitely pan out and hindsight is 20-20 for the people calling for the foul, but Ryan Arcidiacono was 1-7 from three before that shot, so I have no problem not fouling. With the way Syracuse was getting killed on the offensive glass at points in that game, I side with the choice not to foul him. I understand the argument of why you would want to, but I think that it was the right play, even though it didn’t pan out.
This was a bad loss for this team to a bad Villanova team. The circumstances surrounding the game didn’t play well for Syracuse, but at the end of the day both teams are playing under the same situation. Syracuse got out hustled to start the game, and missed some key free throws when the game was on the line and it ended up costing them. This loss makes the trip to Pittsburgh absolutely crucial for this team, who will have to win if they want to maintain control of the conference. Syracuse is still the class of the Big East, and will have to make some adjustments if they plan on staying that way.