|2016-2017 Syracuse Orange|
|NIT 2nd Round||Schedule Results|
Coach: Jim Boeheim
|Adrian Autry Jr||So||G||12||0||17||3||9||33.3%||0||1||0.0%||2||7||
Syracuse would lose an experience backcourt of Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney, plus the scoring ability of Malachi Richardson. Tyler Lydon was the returning star, and hopes were that he would elevate his game to the next level. Syracuse had a trio of talented freshman coming in with Tyus Battle, Matthew Moyer, and Taurean Thompson. Veterans DaJuan Coleman, Tyler Roberson and Frank Howard were counted on for big roles in the team, with hopes of improved health and consistency. Syracuse had two graduate transfers join the team; Andrew White III and John Gillon were going to be counted on to provide some leadership and scoring. Optimism was high about the team, with a lot of talent and potential. Moyer injured his ankle right before the season, and chose to redshirt to let it heal. That was not viewed as harmful to the team, as the squad was considered unusually deep. The team started the season ranked #19.
Syracuse opened the basketball season strong with easy wins in the first four games. The season would start to change when the Orange met South Carolina. The Gamecocks defensed stymied the Orange, and they would beat Syracuse 64-50. The Orange would take on #17 Wisconsin on the road, and the Badgers would easily beat the Syracuse zone defense in a 77-60 win.
The team would struggle through the month of December with three losses to former Big East foes. The team had a close loss to weak Connecticut where Syracuse shot only 26% from the floor. Georgetown beat them 78-71, and St. John’s embarrassed the Orange 93-60. The Orange were sloppy with their playmaking, poor on defense, and shooting poorly.
The Orange would finish their non-conference schedule with an 8-5 record, the worst beginning of a season for the school under Jim Boeheim.
Coach Jim Boeheim had been splitting the point guard duties between Gillon and Howard. That plan was failing as both players seemed to struggle with their confidence. Boeheim had started White at the top of the zone at the beginning of the season, but he struggled defensively there, and was more comfortable at the small forward. Roberson was ineffective on both ends of the court, and was removed from the starting lineup, and would play inconsistent for the remainder of the year. By the end of December Dajuan Coleman’s knees were bothering him again, effectively ending his productive playing time. Center Pascal Chukwu would injure his retina, and would miss most of the season.
The ACC season started, and the defensive woes continued. Lowly rated Boston College would easily beat the Orange 96-81. The Eagles’ Ky Bowman would shread the Orange defense with 30 points, most of it from three point range.
Boheim would make some permanent starting line up changes after that loss, with Gillon assuming the majority of the point guard responsibilities, and Taurent Thompson starting at center. Things immediately started to look better with two impressive victories over Miami and Pittsburgh. White scored 22 and 21 points in the two games, and Gillon had 22 assists in the two combined games.
The Orange would lose three of their next four games, including losses to #9 North Carolina and #15 Notre Dame. Tylor Lydon was playing well, but the team still lacked consistency.
Syracuse needed a win, and they got one against Wake Forest. It was a close game, but White hit a corner three pointer with 1:23 to go to give the Orange the lead, and they would go on to win 81-76. White would score 27 points, and Thompson had a big second half scoring sixteen after the break. This began an impressive five game winning streak for the team.
The Orange upset #6 Florida State in the Dome behind solid play from the two graduate transfers. White scored 24 and Gillon had 11 assists with his 21 points.
In one of the team’s most exciting games of the year, they played North Carolina State. The team trailed by 16 points in the second half, but would rally behind Gillon’s heroics. Gillon would hit a three point shot with 1.8 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game up and send it to overtime. There the Orange would win 100-93. Gillon would end up hitting 9 out of 10 three point shots, and all fourteen of his free throws, as he had a career high 43 points in the win.
Syracuse then played #9 Virginia. They trailed 34-22 at half-time, but a 19-2 run to start the second half gave the Orange their first lead of the game. The Orange would hold onto the lead behind Battle’s 23 points. The win would be Jim Boeheim’s 1000 th of his career.
More drama occurred in a win over Clemson. Syracuse trailed by two as time was running down. Lydon drove the lane, and as the defense collapsed on him, he kicked the ball over the Battle in the corner. Battle would hit the three point shot at the buzzer giving the Orange an 82-81 win.
The team was winning the close games, and looked to be turning things around. Then they lost three in a row, to drop their record to 16-12. Syracuse trailed #8 Louisville by 14 points, and rallied back to tie the game up. Gillon’s three point shot with 40 seconds to go in regulation would send the game into overtime. The overtime period was close. The Cardinals led by two when Roberson was fouled with 2.7 seconds to go. He had a chance to tie the game, but Roberson would miss both free throws as Louisville won.
Syracuse played #10 Duke at the Dome on February 22 nd. It was another memorable game in the series, with the game being tied down the stretch . Duke missed a shot with 7.5 seconds remaining, and John Gillon drove the down the court. He stopped at the top of the key and banked in a three point shot at the buzzer that gave the Orange the dramatic win.
The Orange would lose the next game easily to Louisville 88-68. Senior night saw a big game from Andrew White as the Orange easily beat Georgia Tech 90-61. White would make 8 of 9 three point shots as he scored 40 points in the victory.
Syracuse needed to do well in the ACC tournament for a chance to get to the NCAA tournament. They unfortunately could not handle the Hurricanes, losing 62-57. The Orange did have a chance to tie the game when Gillon took a three point shot with 2 seconds to play. However, he wasn’t able to make his third game winning shot of the year, and Miami got the rebound to seal the win.
Syracuse would play UNC Greensboro in the first round of the NIT tournament. The game was postponed a day due to a snowstorm. Once they did play, White would lead the way with a sharp shooting 7 of 9 three point shots and 34 total points.
Syracuse would struggle on both ends of the court in the second round of the NIT, losing to OIe Miss 85-80, and ending the season. It was a season of frustration, but also one with many memories.
© RLYoung 2016, 2017