Get the latest Syracuse news delivered right to your inbox.
Subscribe to our sports newsletter here.
Syracuse is in the midst of one of its most up-and-down seasons during head coach Jim Boeheim’s tenure. SU was below .500 in January for the first time in Boeheim’s career and NCAA Tournament hopes seemed unattainable. But since dropping two games under .500 in an upset loss to Pittsburgh, the Orange have gone 6-2 in their last eight and might be gaining momentum at the right time.
Now, Syracuse enters its toughest stretch of the season playing Duke, UNC and Miami, all teams in the top four of the Atlantic Coast Conference. With its season hanging in the balance, here are the numbers that have defined Syracuse’s season.
Syracuse lost Jesse Edwards to a season-ending wrist injury in its win over Boston College a few weeks ago. Since then, the Orange have rotated Frank Anselem, Jimmy Boeheim and even Bourama Sidibe at the center position.
Comparing lineups featuring Edwards versus lineups without him, the Orange look to be about the same defensively, but significantly worse on offense. Syracuse has lowered its offensive rebounding percent allowed.
But the big difference is that with Edwards on the floor, Syracuse’s net rating is 15.2, and without him, that number drops to 2.0. Net rating is the difference between the number of points scored and points allowed per 100 possessions in that time. With the defense’s net rating being practically the same, it’s clear that Edwards’ absence has hurt the team’s scoring ability the most.
The Orange’s effective field-goal percentage has also dropped from 54.6% to 48.3% and their two-point percentage at the rim, which is layups and dunks, fell from 64.5% to 51.9%. Evidently, Edwards’ replacements are not as effective at finishing at the rim, something that could hurt SU when outside shots are not falling.
Girard’s career year
Joe Girard III is having a career year for the Orange, shooting 39.6% from the field, 41.8% from 3 and 89.7% from the free-throw line. Girard tops the ACC in 3-point shooting percentage and free-throw shooting. His conference leading stats rank 14th and 12th, respectively, in the nation.
Girard’s shooting success has increased his points per game to 13.7 and with five assists against Georgia Tech, he set a new career-high with 116 in a season. Against the Yellow Jackets, Girard also set a new career-high in steals in a season, as his three steals saw him rise to a team-high 48 this season.
Megan Thompson | Design Editor
Across the board, Girard has improved and has scored double-figures in each of Syracuse’s past seven games as he continues to post new highs in his third season with the Orange.
The magic number to win is 10
A key constant in Syracuse’s 6-1 stretch has been its ability to make at least 10 3-pointers in each win and in the loss to Virginia Tech. The Orange are 9-3 in games this season where the team has made 10 3s. Notably, Syracuse’s losses to Virginia and Virginia Tech were instances where Syracuse made 10 3-pointers but shot under 40% from beyond the arc, showing that efficiency and quantity have not necessarily coincided.
According to shotquality.com — a site that measures a team’s chances of winning based on its quality of shots taken in the game — Syracuse should be 14-13 rather than 15-12 prior to Wednesday’s game against Notre Dame. The wins over FSU in December and Clemson in January were classed as unexpected based on the quality of shots they took. The Orange were supposed to have just a 35% and 23% chance of winning each game, respectively.
Contrast that with the last seven games, where SU had at least 58% chance of winning in each of its most recent four game win streak. It had a 1% chance to win in its eventual loss to VT before jumping up to 74% against BC and GT. Overall, the Orange have lost just twice when shooting at least 40% from deep and just once when shooting 40% and making at least 10 3-pointers.
Last summer, across the NCAA, a plethora of players elected to enter the transfer portal and swap teams. This trend affected Syracuse too as Quincy Guerrier, Kadary Richmond, Robert Braswell and Woody Newton all headed elsewhere. The Orange also lost Marek Dolezaj and Alan Griffin, who decided to play professionally rather than stay at SU.
Combined, the departures accounted for 65.5% of the Orange’s minutes in 28 games last year. The group also contributed 50.4 points per game and accounted for 68.9% of Syracuse’s rebounds. It lost Richmond’s team-leading 46 steals and the entire top three in blocks and three of the top five in assists.
To make up for this, the Orange added Cole Swider from Villanova, Jimmy from Cornell, Symir Torrence from Marquette and freshman Benny Williams. In 28 games this season, the new group has played 45.0% of the minutes, but Edwards and Anselem have also taken on greater roles to fill the void.
The minutes distribution is different this year because the starters play such heavy minutes, with SU ranking 356th on KenPom in bench minutes, the third-worst in the country. For comparison, Richmond, last year’s sixth man, played 589 minutes, while this year’s (Anselem) has played just 344 even with the increased minutes following Edwards’ injury.
Swider and Jimmy have effectively replaced Guerrier and Griffin by averaging similar points per game. The rebounding distribution is more spread out this year as no player has over 200, but at 1016 the Orange surpassed last year’s total. Meanwhile, career-highs in steals from Buddy and Girard have put SU on pace for a similar total to last season.
However, blocks are the statistic with the biggest difference. Last season, the Orange had four players with double-digit blocks, but they are now all gone. Edwards has carried SU this season in that category with 67, while Anselem and Swider have just 12 and 11, respectively. Now, with Edwards out for the season, it’s an area that will need significant improvement to support an already poor Orange defense.
The post Data Dive: Where Syracuse sits heading into the final 3 games of the season appeared first on The Daily Orange.