Last year, Colgate torched Syracuse basketball; defense better lock down

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports) /
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All of Orange Nation was stunned a season ago, when Colgate hit a whopping 18 shots from 3-point land in defeating Syracuse basketball on the road.

The ‘Cuse, during the 2021-22 campaign, would end up at a disappointing 16-17 overall, and the team’s defense left a lot to be desired.

Despite the Syracuse basketball roster in 2022-23 featuring a lot of underclassmen, the ‘Cuse should possess more athleticism and quickness as compared to a season ago.

We’re all hoping that the Orange’s defense – whether in the zone or in man-to-man – will prove better in the present term, which just got underway a week ago. The ‘Cuse, by the way, knocked off Lehigh at home on November 7 by 18 points, 90-72, to kick off 2022-23.

Syracuse basketball looks to exact revenge versus Colgate this week.

While both the Raiders and the ‘Cuse (1-0) have seen their line-ups change from a stanza ago, the Syracuse basketball defense will have to remain laser-focused when the Orange hosts Colgate on Tuesday night at the JMA Wireless Dome.

In November of 2021, the ‘Cuse raced out to an early 15-point lead versus the Raiders on the Hill. But Colgate’s hot perimeter shooting ultimately resulted in a 100-85 victory for the Raiders, snapping Colgate’s 54-game losing streak to its Central New York neighbor.

To date in 2022-23, the Raiders (2-1) have fallen at Buffalo by one point, while defeating Brown on the road by nine points and Wells College at home by 33 points.

As a collective unit, Colgate is hitting on 34.8 percent from beyond the arc, which is certainly okay, but not stellar. But as we see year after year, the Orange’s zone defense entices opponents to hoist up a lot of shots from deep.

If a ‘Cuse foe is struggling from long range, that’s a great sign for Syracuse basketball. However, if an Orange opponent is getting open looks and connecting on a high clip from the perimeter, that’s a problem.

Case in point, last year, Colgate took a lot of 3-pointers versus Syracuse basketball, and the Raiders made the most of their attempts from beyond the arc.

Colgate would connect on 18-of-43 from 3-point land, which is about 42 percent. That’s a high volume and a high success rate.

To reiterate, not all of the guys who suited up for the Raiders in 2021-22 will be on the court this Tuesday evening, but one Colgate star to monitor is senior guard Tucker Richardson.

The 6-foot-5 Richardson, named the Patriot League’s preseason player and defensive player of the year ahead of 2022-23, didn’t light up the scoreboard against Syracuse basketball a term ago, as he made 3-of-11 from 3-point range.

That being said, Richardson is off to an excellent start early in 2022-23. Per ESPN statistics, he is averaging 19.0 points, 5.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds a game, while hitting on an impressive 58.5 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from beyond the arc.

The Raiders can score in droves, as they are averaging 85.7 points per encounter in 2022-23. They also share the ball well, tallying 20.0 assists per affair.

Besides the Orange locking down with its perimeter defense, again whether in the zone or in man-to-man, an area where the ‘Cuse might be able to capitalize is in the turnover department.

Colgate commits 14.3 turnovers a game. If Syracuse basketball can create deflections and steals on defense, that hopefully will enable freshman point guard Judah Mintz and others to run out in transition and produce easy fast-break points.

Considering that the Raiders reached the century mark in scoring last season, the ‘Cuse grabbing easy buckets this go-around will likely be pivotal to the Orange conquering Colgate on Tuesday.

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