Home » Columns »Your Phil of Hoops » Currently Reading:

Simply put, Syracuse needs to improve offensively

November 22, 2014 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments

NEW YORK – Jim Boeheim’s responses to questions are almost legendary. He had one on Friday that basically said it all about his team, despite few words.

“Very little,” was what Boeheim said when asked how much offensive progress he saw from his team over the two days in New York at the 2K Classic. Asked a short time after that where he thinks the offense needs to improve, he then added, “I don’t think we have time.”

Syracuse had a very good stretch in the second half of Friday’s 66-63 win over Iowa, but they also had to hang on for dear life at the end because they came back to earth with turnovers. Offensive struggles with this team are to be expected, so progress at that end will be important given that they can still hang their hat on their defense. Boeheim reiterated more than once that this team has a lot of work to do on that end before ACC play.

With so much production gone from last season’s team, there was an open question about where the offense would come from. Syracuse teams in recent years have hardly resembled offensive powerhouses, and now a bigger challenge seems to be ahead. Could Trevor Cooney go from complementary shooter to go-to guy? Could Kaleb Joseph give them some scoring out of the gate while (more importantly) running the team? Would someone else among their talent emerge as a big scorer?

Well, the answers to the first two questions are still to come, but we’ve already seen something on the third. Someone has quickly emerged at the offensive end, and it’s an unlikely one.

Rakeem Christmas has never been known as much of an offensive player. Even in high school that was the case; he was as much a defensive presence as anything. It helped that for his first three years at Syracuse, there were better scorers, so the Orange didn’t need much offense out of him. Now, however, he has quickly emerged as a scorer, getting many touches and now capitalizing. After scoring 18 points on 7-11 shooting on Friday, he is averaging 15.5 points per game and shooting over 52 percent from the field.

Count his point guard among those not surprised by this.

“In practice every day, he attacks and he’s been scoring a lot,” said Joseph. “I’m not surprised at all. He’s one of the best big men in the country, and we need him to continue to be aggressive.”

Getting points off of defense is one option, and on Friday the Orange did that in the first half with 12 points off 11 Iowa turnovers, while they gave the ball away just four times. The Orange ended up shooting 41.7 percent, while Iowa was at 40 percent and had 18 turnovers.

For his part, Joseph is growing into the college game and showed a nice bit of that on Friday. Though he was 3-10 from the field, he had eight assists and four turnovers, and made several key plays late, often with passes. There’s a lot of pressure on him with the early departure of the steady Tyler Ennis, and he’ll have to keep growing in effectiveness. Whereas he’s used to having to score, he has more offensive talent around him now, so he has to find the balance between being a scoring threat and making teammates better, which will come with experience as he feels them out.

Boeheim noted that just about everyone on this team is in a new position this year. That means there will be some growing pains, especially in non-conference play, and that could come in some of their bigger games like the two in New York, at Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge or at Villanova in December.

Syracuse avoided going 0-2 in New York, which has been unthinkable over the years. Boeheim didn’t have a whole lot to say about his team’s offense, but in doing so, he said plenty. This team will be a work in progress at that end for a while, and how they develop there will have a big say in how far this team goes.

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 20, 2017

January 20, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we touch on a number of issues affecting conferences like Conference USA, as well as a big loss for Creighton, less mystery in Arizona, and more on the ACC as we look forward to the weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 12, 2017

January 12, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a short stint in the top spot of the polls, some developments in the Mountain West Conference, and more of the ACC before closing with the Big East and Atlantic 10.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 24, 2016

December 24, 2016 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about the great games Kentucky has been a part of lately. We go on to other ACC matters involving arch rivals, as well as some quick hits and a conference race that should be as good as expected.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 16, 2016

December 16, 2016 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a coaching legend reaching a milestone, the defending champs looking very good and continuing their winning ways close to home, and some off-court news during a light week of game action.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 29, 2016

November 29, 2016 by

Early season tournaments are the focus in this episode, with a look at how strong a few Big East teams are out of the gate and how strong the ACC could be. Plus one SEC team had a big week outside the scope of tournaments.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.