If you follow Syracuse basketball, then you know the blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. It looks to me like the premier Syracuse blog out there, and fortunately the creator, Sean Keeley, was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about Syracuse. In turn, he has asked me some questions on Montana which will appear over there in the next couple days.
My questions are in bold, his answers in regular font.
1) Jim Boeheim is famous for his zone defense. Can you give us a quick rundown of what makes the Orange's zone so effective?
Like most things with Syracuse basketball, the zone is always only as effective as the athletes playing in it. Last year when Syracuse lost only three games all year, their zone defense was smothering from top to bottom. Quick guards up top neutralized transition, the wings took away the deep threat and the big in the middle changed the way other teams attacked the rim.
This year, the Orange haven't had all the tools most of the time. Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita aren't the imposing threat that Fab Melo was and Brandon Triche & Michael Carter-Williams aren't quite as steal-happy as Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters were.
That said, this team is still talented enough to cause havoc and force opponents to beat them with the three-ball or to try and overpower them inside. If you can't do either, it's trouble.
2) 10 seconds left, tie game. Who on Syracuse is getting the ball?
Good question. Michael Carter-Williams is probably going to get the ball and from there, he's going to do one of three things. He's either going to iso his man and drive himself, or he's going to create an opportunity for C.J. Fair or James Southerland. Southerland is our big-shot threat but Fair is the most consistent shooter and clutch player we have. If you're asking me who I WANT with the ball, it's Fair.
3) Syracuse started the year 22-4 before finishing 4-5. Is there a reason for the drop off, or was it just the grind of the Big East?
I think you can blame a little bit of it on the grind of playing some really top-tier teams but this Syracuse team has a lot of flaws that got exposed at the same time. There just hasn't been much consistency from the frontcourt, especially on offense. The shooters are very streaky and oftentimes guys like Southerland and Triche go ice-cold at the same time. Finally, the team really seemed rudderless at times. Brandon Triche was expected to be a bit more like Scoop Jardine was last year, lead the team on and off the court, and that just hasn't been the case. I think the team lost its identity mid-way through the season and is only now starting to find it again.
4) As a fan of college basketball, I see the name Michael Carter-Williams all the time on my twitter feed, more than anyone else on Syracuse. Can you talk briefly about his game?
You know how Michael Carter-Williams is having a good game? When he has more assists than points. MC-Dubz, as we call him, is a supremely-talented guy full of potential, which is probably why he'll be a lottery pick this year. However, it's hard to tell that from the stat sheets. But when he's focused on feeding his wings, creating plays for his offense and playing within himself instead of forcing the issue, he makes the Syracuse offense unstoppable. It's when he gets it in his head that we need him to score 15 points that he gets himself, and the Orange, into trouble.
5) If Syracuse makes a deep run in the Tournament, it will be because of _________?
Michael Carter-Williams took over, James Southerland continued to shoot lights out and Baye Moussa Keita/Rakeem Christmas kept their heads above water.
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