Saturday, March 17, 2018

On to the Next Round...

Syracuse Orange will not give up the fight as they pushed through to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament with a win over the TCU Horned Frogs. 

Story and Photo by Tyler Dudley

DETROIT, MI - Syracuse Orange overcame No. 6 seed TCU Horned Frogs in a 57-52 victory Friday night in Detroit to complete the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.

Marek Who? 

All eyes were on the 6-9 freshman forward from Slovakia, Marek Dolezaj.

Dolezaj dominated the first half of the game scoring the opening points for the Orange. Offensively and defensively, he showed up to play.

"Marek was unbelievable tonight." Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. "The only reason we were in the game was the way he played early."

With four early points for Syracuse, Dolezaj was active on both ends of the court.

He ended the first half leading all scorers with 13 points and four rebounds. Despite fouling out with six minutes to go in the second half, he ended the night as the leading scorer with 17 points.

The Beauty of Defense 

Coach Boeheim made it clear from the beginning that it was going to be up to the Syracuse defense to win games. Tonight, that was proven.

"It was our defense. Our defense was tremendous," Boeheim said.

Since the start of the NCAA Tournament, Syracuse has managed to hold two teams that score on average in the 80s, to a low 50 points.

"This was just a defensive game," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. "Our defense... didn't give them good looks from the 3-point line,our defense was fabulous."

Syracuse out rebounded TCU, 37 to 34 and forced 13 turnovers for the Horned Frogs.

Ball Movement 

During the first minutes of the game the ball got tossed around on offense quite a bit. From one half to the next, the offense seemed to slow down.

"Frank was struggling and Tyus was struggling to get by," Boeheim said. "Our best player, Marek, was out of the game so we had to make an adjustment."

The slow momentum and sudden change seemed to be an issue for the players.

"I think it was a mental lapse on our players' fault," sophomore guard Tyus Battle said. "We should have kept moving the ball."

The Orange do well when adjusting to their opponents pace, but continue to play the game that they play.

"Once we started moving the ball in the second half we started getting easy shots, easy buckets, cuts to the basket, stuff like that," Battle said.

With only 20 points in the paint, the slow scoring game wasn't what the players wanted.

"This team is going to fight, whatever situation we're in, if the pace was a little different, we have to adjust," junior guard Frank Howard said.

Adjustments made all the difference for the Orange as they managed to squeak another tournament win over TCU.

The End of the Road for TCU

TCU's head coach Jamie Dixon has a history with Coach Boeheim with a now 15-7 record coaching against him.

Coach Dixon was the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, that is where he gained the experience against Boeheim's zone defense.

Seeing as Boeheim said defense wins games, it was a true test for Dixon's team. Overall, Boeheim and his players were still impressed by the match-up.

"Kudos to TCU," Howard said. "They played a hard game."

Boeheim sees a difference in Dixon's Horned Frogs team in comparison to his team at Pittsburgh.

"This team is more of an offensive team," Boeheim said. "They play good defense but they're really a tremendous offensive team."

Dixon's offense pushed Syracuse down to the wire as they kept it between a one and three point difference the last few minutes of the game.

TCU's Kenrich Williams led the Horned Frogs with 14 points and eight rebounds. Closely behind was TCUs Slovakian forward Vlad Brodziansky, with 13 points and three rebounds.

Despite the strong offense, it just wasn't enough to keep them fighting in the tournament.

The Orange Stay Dancing! 

Syracuse will face No. 3 seed Michigan St. Sunday afternoon at 2:40 p.m. in the Second Round of the tournament in Little Caesars Arena.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Syracuse Close in on Arizona State to Keep Dancing

Story by Tyler Dudley 

DAYTON, Ohio - Syracuse Orange defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils 60-56 in Dayton, OH on Wednesday night.

Offensive Setbacks 

The first half was back-and-forth as both teams struggled getting shots off and had a hard time maintaining possession of the ball.

First two plays of the game were a turnover by Frank Howard and an air ball by Arizona State’s senior guard Kodi Justice.

Howard turned things around and scored eight straight points for Syracuse to give them an early 10-7 lead. 

Despite a tough start, Syracuse managed to maintain a lead over the Sun Devils for a majority of the first half. With two lead changes that lasted no more than a minute each, the Orange went into halftime with a 30-28 lead over Arizona State. 

As the clock started in the second half, Arizona State's offense made it seem as though they were about to take over the game. The Sun Devils started the second half with an 8-0 run. 

ASU's senior guard Tra Holder opened the half with a three, followed by fellow senior guard Shannon Evans II draining one of his own from downtown. Third and final senior Kodi Justice ended his basketball career with the Sun Devils scoring 15 points. 

With about seven minutes to play in the second half, the Orange came back from a seven-point deficit to win it in fashion. Syracuse fans in the arena were hoping to keep the dance going in Detroit and that is exactly what they got, but not without a little trial and tribulation. 

The Orange were led by freshman guard Oshae Brissett as he scored his 13th double-double of the season with 23 points and 12 rebounds. 

Defense Pushes Through 

The true battle was between both teams’ alternating defense.

“Overall their defense was much better than they showed during the year,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “Defensively we had some really good possessions. We just couldn’t get the rebound.”
With less than two minutes to go in the second half, ASU was within three, 55-52. The clock was ticking and it all came down to defensive play. With 51 seconds left, SU led 55-54 and was able to hold onto that lead as ASU continued to foul Syracuse four times in the last minute of play. 

Paschal Chukwu stepped up to the line with the chance to ice the game and that he did. 

“We made plays in the end that we had to make,” Boeheim said.

Foul Trouble 

Oshae Brissett, Marek Dolezaj, and Paschal Chukwu each had 2 fouls headed into half-time. Foul trouble seems to be the true test for the Orange game in and game out.

Arizona State put some pressure on Syracuse offense and whatever head coach Bobby Hurley was telling his Sun Devils to do, it was working.

“They made it very difficult for us to score,” Boeheim said on ASU’s defense.

Sun Devils pushed through SU’s length and were able to draw 16 fouls off the Orange, both offensively and defensively. 

“It’s difficult to win offensively when you’ve got three guys scoring,” Boeheim said. “And if they’re off a little bit, then it puts all the pressure back on our defense.”

The Orange managed to reset after the half and try to maintain control of the game, without fouling. 

Dance Continues

“It’ll be a real challenge for us, but we have played really well coming back this year. We’ll be ready to play Friday," Boeheim said. 

Syracuse Orange travel to Little Caesar’s Arena where they will take on the Texas Christian Horned Frogs on Friday in Detroit.