As Syracuse’s 3-point shooting improves, its offense could look a whole lot different

As Syracuse’s 3-point shooting improves, its offense could look a whole lot different

first_img Comments Sticking to an old shooter’s adage became the reason for Buddy Boeheim’s breakthrough. For much of the first half of the season, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim repeatedly reminded his son: “Be patient. It’ll come. Just keep shooting.”Patience prevailed Saturday for the freshman sharpshooter. His four-straight made 3-pointers in Syracuse’s (13-5, 4-1 Atlantic Coast) 74-63 victory over Pittsburgh (12-6, 2-3) at the Carrier Dome are indicative of two emerging themes. Junior shooting guard Tyus Battle is attacking the basket more, which opens up spaces on the perimeter. And while the Orange sits near the bottom of the ACC in 3-point shooting percentage — more than 10 percent worse than league-leading Virginia Tech — they’ve found a rhythm from the outside in the past two games. In wins over No. 1 Duke and against Pittsburgh, 40-plus percent shooting displays drove SU.Over the past two-and-a-half seasons, Syracuse hasn’t been a consistent threat from deep. Long gone are sharpshooters Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson, a trio that drilled 3s at a high clip. This year, the Orange aren’t necessarily a 3-point shooting team, but they’re drilling deep balls with more consistency of late. Its reliance on 3s has opened up driving lanes and made Syracuse a more dynamic team, all the more important during the middle of conference play.“We did shoot the ball well from 3, which makes a big difference,” Boeheim said. “We need to do a better job of finding open shooters on the wings. Buddy gives us the threat to shoot from the outside. A couple of times when Tyus (Battle) was driving, they were staying right with (Buddy), and Tyus got some room to drive.”Syracuse improved to 4-1 in the ACC for a number of reasons, not the least of which being 3-point shooting. Without knocking down 3s at a 44 percent rate against Duke, the Orange would’ve been out of the game. And had Buddy not had his “best week” of practice, his father said Saturday, he wouldn’t have played as much as he did (19 minutes) and made four 3s on five tries.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“You need to have 3s if you want to score a lot of points,” Buddy said. “It’s a big factor, it opens up the floor and it helps us tremendously on the offensive end.”Buddy isn’t alone. Five SU players attempted at least three deep balls and each of them made at least one. Battle drilled three. Senior point guard Frank Howard and junior forward Elijah Hughes each hit a pair. Sophomore forward Oshae Brissett hit a 3-pointer as well.To Brissett, the 3-point explosion this week wasn’t by accident. The shooting streak isn’t happening because SU’s simply making the shots they used to be missing. The shots are more open, and they’re coming in rhythm — not off slow ball screens or at the end of the shot clock.“We know the shots are going to be there,” Brissett said. “We just have to make them.”Seventy-five minutes before practice Thursday, Brissett and associate head coach Adrian Autry went through a 3-point shooting drill. “Sit,” Autry told him after a miss. The idea is to get low in the shot. After a few minutes, Autry instructed Brissett not to land over the 3-point line after the ball was released. He’d have to shoot up and down.Players are shooting more 3s before and after practice, Brissett, Howard and sophomore forward Marek Dolezaj said. They realize SU’s interior scoring is mediocre, at least for now. A number of players are capable of driving to the basket and scoring on drives and floaters. But an added dimension to the SU offense, even as one of the ACC’s worst shooting teams, could provide a boost down the stretch.“We’ve done a great job of adjusting in games,” Howard said. “If we need to shoot 3s, we’ll shoot 3s. If there are other options, great. We didn’t do that in our last loss.”Battle, who scored a game-high 22 points, said the 3-point barrage is a result of aggressive moves to the basket, not the other way around. When Battle, Brissett, Howard and Hughes attack off the dribble, they open the wings for shooters to spot up. The open looks are there because defenses feel they need to defend drivers, foremost.Across college basketball, teams live and die by the 3-point shot. The balance of power in college basketball has transferred to those who can shoot the trifecta. If Syracuse continues to improve from beyond the arc, its offense could look a whole lot different. Published on January 19, 2019 at 5:32 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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