Syracuse basketball has to vastly improve its shooting, clean up turnovers

Syracuse basketball (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Syracuse basketball may have triumphed 72-58 over Division II Southern New Hampshire in the Orange’s second and final exhibition tune-up on Tuesday night at the JMA Wireless Dome, but the ‘Cuse clearly has a lot of work to do as the 2022-23 regular season is nearly upon us.

In all fairness, the Orange does have a vastly remade roster that includes two returning starters and sophomore forward Benny Williams, along with a six-member 2022 class and a young big-man transfer.

So, as the 2022-23 regular season kicks off on November 7 when Syracuse basketball hosts Lehigh on the Hill, it’s understandable if the ‘Cuse is going to endure some growing pains and will have to play through some mistakes.

Yet if Syracuse basketball wants to drastically improve upon its 16-17 record a term ago, the Orange is going to have to perform a whole lot better than it did on Tuesday evening when the ‘Cuse battled Southern New Hampshire out of the Northeast-10 Conference.

Syracuse basketball, in the first half, built a big lead against Southern New Hampshire.

In its first exhibition game, the Orange actually trailed Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the second half before pulling away for an 86-68 win in Central New York.

Against Southern New Hampshire, though, Syracuse basketball tallied a sizable advantage in the first half, and the Orange led 43-23 at the break.

The Penmen, however, kept fighting and didn’t wither away in the second half. Southern New Hampshire methodically reduced its deficit, and the Penmen closed to within 10 points with about two minutes remaining in this encounter.

I started to feel a little nervous, frankly. But Syracuse basketball, which I believe can be lethal out in transition this coming season following deflections and steals in its zone defense, grabbed a few buckets to ultimately carve out a 14-point conquest.

I recognize that this was only an exhibition game, however, Southern New Hampshire outscoring the Orange by six points in the second half is unacceptable.

What’s more, the ‘Cuse offense appeared so stagnant after halftime. Not a lot of fluid ball movement, crisp passing or dynamic offensive sets.

Don’t get me wrong. There is tons of talent and potential on the 2022-23 roster. But per, against Southern New Hampshire, Syracuse basketball shot 39 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc (86 percent from the charity stripe is encouraging).

Sure, the Orange doled out 16 assists, however, it had 17 turnovers. That’s not good. The ‘Cuse only held a two-board edge in rebounding, although part of that can be attributed to the Penmen connecting on just 31 percent from the field and a meager 22 percent from 3-point land.

Syracuse basketball did boast both nine blocks and nine steals. The squad accumulated nearly 20 points off of Southern New Hampshire turnovers.

Perhaps this is a foreshadowing of what’s to come in 2022-23. In losing the Boeheim brothers, Buddy and Jimmy, and Cole Swider, who now suits up for the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, the Orange has a huge void to fill as it pertains to perimeter shooting.

Initially, though, it does seem that the current ‘Cuse roster is more athletic, quicker, and will shine better out in transition. Perhaps the zone defense will be better than a year ago.

On Tuesday night, head coach Jim Boeheim put all 12 scholarship players into the game, and 11 of them scored. We all know, however, that Boeheim’s rotation is going to shrink down sooner rather than later.

Seniors Joe Girard III, a shooting guard, and Jesse Edwards, a center, paced the team with 15 points and 13 points, respectively. Freshman Maliq Brown and senior guard Symir Torrence each had eight points, and Torrence, in an encouraging sign, connected on two 3-pointers.

Williams produced six points and eight boards. Freshman forward Chris Bell had seven points. Freshman point guard Judah Mintz, at the game’s onset, secured four quick points, but he struggled with his shot for the rest of this exhibition affair.

I don’t want to sound all doom and gloom, because the ‘Cuse hasn’t even competed in an official game yet. But clearly, the Orange has a lot of work to do.

Next up for Syracuse basketball is the 2022-23 season opener. Lehigh comes to the Dome this Monday, with the tip-off slated for 8 pm and live streaming coverage being provided by the ACC Network Extra.

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