As the ‘Cuse (5-5, 1-0) gets set to host Lehigh from the Carrier Dome this coming Saturday, the Orange will soon wrap up its non-conference slate and begin its Atlantic Coast Conference calendar in earnest.
Granted, the ACC is a bit down for the moment, so perhaps the ‘Cuse can capitalize on that in the near future, assuming Syracuse basketball rights the ship, so to speak, on defense as well as on the glass.
Through 10 games, the Orange is allowing a whopping 77.9 points per game, which isn’t good at all. But were the ‘Cuse to continue with that pace, and I sincerely hope the team doesn’t, would it set a record for most points allowed per encounter under head coach Jim Boeheim? It could.
Let’s examine the defenses of Syracuse basketball squads, historically speaking.
Before I get into what other Orange teams have done in the past as it pertains to points allowed per affair, to be fair, I need to mention a couple of things.
First of all, looking at past seasons and trying to compare them precisely to the 2021-22 stanza won’t entirely hold water. That’s because the game of college basketball has significantly changed over the past handful of decades, dating back to when Boeheim took the helm as the boss in Central New York.
So this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. I’m using this data to provide some context, but that’s about it. The 3-point shot wasn’t always around, and that’s important to note.
The shot clock wasn’t always in existence, and since it has been utilized, the number of seconds within the shot clock has changed. College basketball squads, these days, rely on 3-pointers much more than in the past. The number of possessions that each group boasts in a given game is different from what it was years ago.
Plus, it’s not always just about how many points per game the ‘Cuse allows. The team’s scoring margin is way more important, naturally.
As an example, in 2021-22, at least for the time being, Syracuse basketball is averaging 77.5 points per encounter while allowing 77.9 points. That is an awful scoring margin.
But, according to data on sports-reference.com, the next highest amount of points per meeting that a Boeheim-led group gave up in a season came back in 1988-89, when the Orange allowed 76.1 points per game.
One would think that 76.1 is a big number, and that may be true. However, in that stanza, the ‘Cuse scored nearly 90 points per contest and went to the Elite Eight.
Since 2000, five Syracuse basketball teams have allowed 70 points or more per affair. They are squads from 2021-22 (to date, of course), 2020-21, 2016-17, 2008-09 and 2007-08.
For a little context, the Orange went to the Sweet 16 in 2020-21 and 2008-09, and to the NIT in 2016-17 and 2007-08. We’ll have to see what happens in the current term.
Other Boeheim-guided teams with relatively high amounts of points allowed per game include 1981-82 at 75.8 points, 1993-94 at 74.9 points, 1982-83 at 74.5 points, and 1990-91 at 74.4 points.
Conversely, two ‘Cuse units under Boeheim have allowed fewer than 60 points per contest, on average, for an entire season. The 2012-13 Final Four group, at 58.7 points, and the 2013-14 team that raced to a 25-0 start, at 59.2 points.
But, to reiterate, it’s all about scoring margin, not just how many points an Orange squad allows. As a prime example, the 2002-03 team that cut down the nets gave up about 70 points per game, however, it also scored nearly 80 points per encounter.