Post Game Analysis: Syracuse defeats IUP: 83-65

Jan 5, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange mascot, Otto performs prior to the game against the Clemson Tigers at the Carrier Dome. Clemson won 74-73 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Not usually does an exhibition give us lots to think about going into the second exhibition game. This game though, gives Syracuse Basketball fans lots to be excited and worry about.

When you’re ranked 19th in the nation going into you first exhibition game the expectations are pretty high. However when you lead by only 5 points at halftime versus a Division II team you get a bit concerned. This is exactly the situation Syracuse was in against Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), 38-33.

Yes, the Orange would go on to win 83-65, but let’s put things in perspective. Syracuse trailed most of the first half, taking their first lead of the game at 30-29 at the 5:10 mark. It took nearly 10-12 minutes for Syracuse to realize that their intensity was not keeping up with IUP’s. The Orange then finally put things into second (and maybe even third gear) and went on a 18-2 drive which changed the game for good.

So what did we learn from this game. The Answer: lots, but here’s five things.

Jan 5, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Franklin Howard (L) and redshirt sophomore Paschal Chukwu (R) watch warm ups prior to the game against the Clemson Tigers at the Carrier Dome. Clemson won 74-73 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

1.) Paschal Chukwu made an immediate impact

The 7’2 big man came in with Syracuse struggling and immediately brought rebounding and blocking ability to a team that was allowing scores at will on the inside. Chukwu, while he was in, clogged the middle, and when opponents came in they had second thoughts. That’s the kind of presence that was missing all of last year.

His rebounding will be huge this year especially if the Orange miss a lot of shots at times. That might help Syracuse shoot their way out of a funk and give them lots of second chances to score. If this game is any indication, this Orange team likes to shoot so he may come in handy more than we thought he might. We’ll see if he takes more minutes away from senior center DaJuan Coleman.

Sep 9, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange mascot Otto, performs prior to the game against the Louisville Cardinals at the Carrier Dome. Louisville defeated Syracuse 62-28. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

2.) Tyus Battle is as good as advertised

When Boeheim said this kid was good he wasn’t kidding. In the first half alone he shot Syracuse back into the game going 5 of 7 from the field and 3 of 3 from three-point range. For the game he would go on to score 16 points on 6 of 10 shooting, 4 of 5 from downtown.

His driving ability, shooting touch, and ability to create shots for himself could make this team lethal. He’s not a big physical presence as a freshman, but he doesn’t really need to be. For now, his ability to score alone probably can keep us in games until we figure out how to run the offense efficiently.

Battle outshined the other freshman Taurean Thompson and Matthew Moyer by leaps and bounds and it wasn’t even close. We’ll see if this pattern continues moving forward. Freshmen are not usually consistent, but I think this one might.

Mar 10, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers forward Andrew White III (3) grabs a rebound against Wisconsin Badgers forward Vitto Brown (30) during the Big Ten Conference tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

3.) The transfers are great, but a work in progress

Andrew White showed up and was flashy, just like we thought he’d be. He can score at will at times, but he is streaky. That can be both good and bad. When he misses, he can miss a lot. When he makes them, he makes a lot. Sound familiar? Malachi Richardson in the NCAA tournament, anyone?

His length posed problems for the opposing offense, causing several loose balls, strips, and steals. He needs to play smarter on defense though as he picked up several stupid fouls that made Jim Boeheim furious. He will have problems with Boeheim if he doesn’t pick up this new defense he’s learning on the fly.

John Gillon on the other hand made his case for the starting point guard job over incumbent Frank Howard. Though he struggled to create much offense for himself, he instead found lots of opportunities for his teammates. When he did he want to score though he did so with ease. One drive and layup earlier in the contest drew the applause of the crowd for how impressive it was.

He finished the game with 6 points, and 9 assists. He looked very comfortable running the offense and his passing at the top of key and while driving could be important to get shooters open for good shots this season. Both transfers have work to do on offense and getting to know their teammates strengths and weaknesses, but they’ll get there. After all, this is only the first time to get their feet wet. It’s an exhibition game and nothing more, yet.

Mar 25, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) battles for the ball between Syracuse Orange forward Tyler Lydon (20) and forward Tyler Roberson (21) during the second half in a semifinal game in the Midwest regional of the NCAA Tournament at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

4.) The Tylers run this team

This came as a surprise to me, but more than one Tyler showed up in a big way in this game. We all expected Tyler Lydon to be Tyler Lydon, which was great, but Tyler Roberson also showed that as a senior he can be a force to be reckoned with. He scored with a variety of post moves and showed he worked hard this offseason, showcasing his talents to NBA scouts this season.

His rebounding which has been his staple the last few years was still there and he might be one of the nations leading rebounders once again. Roberson will not lead the team in scoring, but he will probably score more this year, and some will be from three. I know all this talk of scoring from him sounds odd, but its the new reality.

Truth of the matter is, the Tyler’s run this team. Get used to it. Oh yeah, and you heard it here first.

Sep 9, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange basketball head coach Jim Boeheim is honored during the second quarter of the game against the Louisville Cardinals at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

5.) Syracuse’s offense and defense has a ways to go

The 2-3 zone was hardly a factor and that seems hard to believe. Boeheim actually abandoned the zone for a pressure defense most of the game which led to multiple turnovers, and fast break scores. Boeheim knows this team is built with lots of length and height. He used that to his advantage.

The pressure defense alone turned the game around when Syracuse struggled to score to open up the game. It quickly put Syracuse back in the driver seat and made IUP have to pass rather than set up their offense.

The one big problem from all of this is we barely saw this team in the 2-3 zone facing a half court offense. We will need more of that in the next couple games. We cannot beat the Duke’s of the world this season if we play defense in the half-court the way we did to open up this exhibition game.

The good news is that the turnovers in the press allow lots of opportunities to get fast break points and set up the offense. It gave Gillon the chance to get comfortable running the point when Frank Howard struggled. It also showed us how this team can put up points in a hurry if they need to. This team can score with just about anyone and we can go up to 8-9 deep. Its possible my prediction of going 10 deep was too big a stretch for the rotation, but that remains to be seen.

Either way, the Orange can win games whether its Lydon leading, or Battle, and maybe even White. All are capable of putting this team on their backs and winning so we’ll have to see how that plays out.

I’m so glad basketball season is finally here and I’m sure you are too. Be sure to check back with Inside the Loud House for more news and analysis as the Syracuse basketball season progresses.

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