Syracuse Basketball: Orange Report Card for Final Four Loss to Michigan
In the end, it was the same old, same old for the Orange.
See the basket, see the ball clank off the rim.
Once again, a solid defensive effort was done in by a poor offensive showing as Syracuse lost 61-56 to the young, Michigan Wolverines in the Final Four.
Now that the basketball season is over and the school year is winding down, it only seems fitting to offer up a report card for each Syracuse player in the Final Four loss.
Their final grade for the game was arrived at after considering the offensive and defensive efforts of each player.
Brandon Triche and the Play of the Game
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In the last of his school-record 147 games, Triche put forth a valiant effort. He played 39 minutes, fouling out with 19 seconds remaining on a controversial charging call that, while not deciding the game, certainly changed the course of it.
Triche's shooting woes continued, as he hit only 4-of-9 shots, but he penetrated and ended up with 11 points. Brandon also grabbed three rebounds and did a great job running the offense, dishing out eight assists and turning the ball over only twice.
Defensively, he was again a force at the top of the zone harassing the best backcourt in the country into shooting 5-of-29 from the field. National Player of the Year Trey Burke shot only 1-of-8 and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (4-of-16) and Nik Stauskas (0-of-5) also struggled.
This is not the game MCW wanted to go out with. After a Most Outstanding Player performance in the East Regional, Carter-Williams picked a terrible time to play poorly.
He played 36 minutes before fouling out. He only scored two points, hitting on 1-of-6 shots, but even worse was his inability to run the offense. MCW only handed out two assists and turned the ball over five times.
He did grab five rebounds, had two steals and was very good defensively at the top of the zone. I mentioned a bit earlier how poorly the Michigan backcourt shot the ball and certainly Carter-Williams had a big role in that.
I know, I know. The last shot of the Syracuse season was an ugly one by Cooney. But I'm not going to kill him for that since he was thrown into the fray, and after James Southerland couldn't get free for the designed play, Cooney did the best he could.
He played only five minutes and did make one of his three shots for three points. He also grabbed a rebound.
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Old Faithful has nothing in the consistency department on C.J. Fair.
In the Final Four, he showed up yet again, leading the Orange with 22 points on 9-of-20 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds.
Fair was really the only scoring option for Syracuse, and he looked to take advantage of the mismatch he had with the Michigan frontcourt. None of the Wolverine forwards could stay with the 6'8", 215-pound Fair. Glen Robinson III (6'6") was just too small. Mitch McGary and Jon Horford, each 6'10", 250 pounds, weren't quick enough. The same for 6'8" 250-pound Jordan Morgan.
I'm nitpicking perhaps, but Fair's defensive performance kept him from getting an A+. He has to take some responsibility for Michigan's 13 offensive rebounds, which really hurt the Orange.
Like Michael Carter-Williams, not the performance James wanted to go out on.
When a shooter doesn't make shots, it's generally not a good sign. Southerland made only 2-of-9, including 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. He did grab three rebounds but gave the ball away twice.
The Orange needed baskets from Southerland. When he makes shots, it opens up the inside for Fair to operate, as well as for Carter-Williams to penetrate. It also gives Triche more space on the other side.
Defensively, he grabbed only three rebounds and did a poor job boxing out, which helped allow the Wolverines to snare 13 offensive rebounds.
Grant played a very productive 17 minutes, making 2-of-3 shots for four points. Most importantly, he came with enormous energy, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out an assist and blocking a shot. All in 17 minutes.
The Orange needed more Grant.
Rakeem Christmas battling Mitch McGary
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Christmas only played 23 minutes but was pretty good offensively. He made 2-of-3 shots and 1-of-3 from the line for five points. It would have been nice to see him get more shots.
Rak was active underneath, grabbing five rebounds. The problem was on the defensive end, where he was in the middle as Michigan was getting 13 offensive rebounds.
He was also responsible to some degree for guarding Mitch McGary, who destroyed the Orange. McGary was the difference in the game, scoring 10 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out six assists.
Baye Moussa Keita:
Much like Christmas, Keita didn't play a lot. In his 17 minutes, he made both of his shots in scoring four points. He did grab two rebounds and blocked a shot.
Again, the problem was on the defensive end where McGary and Glenn Robinson III put the hurt on the Orange.
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