Jim Boeheim, Syracuse Not Relying on Trademark 2-3 Zone This Year

Larry RulisonContributor INovember 19, 2008

"The real strength of the Princeton offense, strong outside shooting along with offensive patience, will punish any team that elects to play a sagging man to man or zone defense." - From Hoops Tactics page of Cybersportsusa.com

Jim Boeheim shocked the world Tuesday night. He played more man-to-man defense than his trademark 2-3 zone in the Orange's 76-71 win over the Richmond Spiders.

And it wasn't just a little more. It was a lot. Syracuse was in man-to-man defense for 30 of the game's 40 minutes.

Now one might believe that Jimmy was simply using the best method to defend the Princeton-style offense that Richmond uses, but it's more likely that this is the direction that Boeheim has wanted to move all along.

Last year, with a bench basically of two players, Boeheim couldn't play man-to-man. His players were too exhausted.

But with the three-point shot being so deadly in college basketball today, the 'Cuse often suffered devastating consequences against teams like Notre Dame, which aren't afraid to chuck the ball a lot.

Now Jim has the bench to be able to play man-to-man, and it appears that is what he is going to push on this team.

I will say that when the 'Cuse switched out of man to employ the zone midway through the first half, the Orange were able to pick off a lot of passes and turn those into transition baskets. On the other hand, Richmond drained a bunch of three-pointers, leading me to believe the zone wasn't at it best.

My last thought is that Andy Rautins looks way off his game coming off ACL surgery last year. He threw up a ton of bricks and was 0-for-7 overall from the field, missing five three-pointers.

He's apparently been doing great in practice, but I wonder if his added bulk—it looks like he added 20 pounds—has anything to do with the loss of his shooting touch.

Friday should be another good test with Oakland University coming to the Dome. Oakland just beat Oregon in Eugene.

Apparently the man to beat on Oakland is J.J., otherwise known as Johnathan Jones. He lit Oregon up with 32 points in 45 minutes. I think he is going to have to be guarded by Jonny Flynn, the most aggressive defender on the team, or else the Orange may be in trouble.