Rushed Reaction: #1 Syracuse 72, #16 UNC Asheville 65Posted by JPriz on March 15th, 2012
Three Key Takeaways.
- Syracuse isn’t a Final Four Team…Even though Syracuse won the second half by 11 points and the game, I was not impressed. They didn’t perform like a#1 seed. They didn’t create separation, or go on any sustainable runs. This was really a 3 point ball game throughout. It is clear that the loss of Fab Melo is bigger than Jim Boeheim has made it out to be. He allowed the rest of their defense to free lance. Now that they aren’t able to do that, they really struggled to contain the 3-point shot and to get out on the fast break. I know Syracuse was credited with 13 fast break points, but that is small potatoes to what they normally do. I don’t see Syracuse beating the likes of a Vanderbilt or Wisconsin, let alone an Ohio State or Florida State. Where was Kris Joseph today? Where was Scoop Jardine for much of the game? Where was Dion Waiters in the second half? There are a lot more questions than answers.
- Refs can change the game. UNC-Asheville had it down to a 3-point game with Syracuse shooting a 1 and 1 with less than 2 minutes left. Syracuse missed the free throw, but the refs called UNC-Asheville for a lane violation, leading to 2 more free throws. Then with a minute left and UNC-Asheville pressing, they gave the ball back to Syracuse after a loose ball foul call on UNC-Asheville that was clearly after the ball had already gone out of bounds off of Syracuse. Last but not least, the refs almost let Syracuse shoot 3 free throws for a 2 point shot at the end, but fortunately someone caught it. There are many plays throughout the game, but this missed calls came at a pivotal time for UNC-Asheville, and contributed to their comeback falling short.
- Will there be Christmas in March? Syracuse clearly needs to filling a gaping hole that Melo left. That job fell to Rakeem Christmas today, and he didn’t step up in my opinion. Sure, he ended up with a couple blocks, 7 boards, and about a half dozen points, but he didn’t provide the presence they need. He was soft and got pushed off the boards and out of the paint, especially in the first half when UNC-Asheville went on several runs. If the job isn’t Christmas’ to fill, they are going to have to find someone else, because he isn’t going to provide the type of spark they need to make a deep run in the tourney.
Star of the Game. James Southerland, Syracuse. I am not sure there was a single star in this game, but I think the person who most helped Syracuse to win the game was Southerland. He hit all of his 3′s from the right side of the court in the 2nd half, and provided the spark they needed to get back in the game, and then take the lead. He was also a very efficient 6-8 from the field and 3-5 from long range. He also had 8 boards.
Sights and Sounds. I haven’t been to a game where 90% of the fans are cheering against the favorite, but that’s exactly what happened today. It was amazing to see that the underdog was treated like the home team, and I look forward to seeing that type of treatment when there isn’t a clear favorite or home team in attendance. The crowd was the difference maker, and definitely helped boosted the confidence of UNC-Asheville.
What’s Next? #1 Syracuse advances to take on #8 Kansas State on Saturday. I wasn’t impressed with Syracuse tonight, but I was also not impressed with Kansas State. I think Kansas State should be a good test for Syracuse, but at the end of the day, I think Syracuse has too much firepower not to advance against the Wildcats. Kansas State is too one dimensional, and had a hard time hitting 3′s, so it doesn’t bode well against Syracuse. Syracuse needs to find an identity quick though if they want to last long this year.