Hass: Syracuse can win games at any tempo as evidenced by Duke, UND performances

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 7, 2014 at 12:32 am The Atlantic Coast Conference looked eerily similar to the Big East for most of conference play. Slow paced. Turnover filled. Slugfests that make you want to tear your hair out, but somehow end up being incredibly entertaining.But then Syracuse faced Duke. As SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game, it wasn’t just a classic because it was so close and there were so many people there — it was a classic because of the high-quality, fast-paced brand of basketball largely absent from the ACC this season.Two days later, the ugliness returned against Notre Dame. But just like Syracuse did against the Blue Devils, the Orange found a way to beat the Fighting Irish.Syracuse (22-0, 9-0 ACC) has shown the ability to win both frenetic sprints to the finish line and painstakingly gruesome games this year. Whichever approach Clemson (15-6, 6-3) opts to take, No 1. will adjust accordingly and stay unbeaten.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFast or slow, aesthetically off-putting or gorgeous, it doesn’t matter. Syracuse can and will win either way.“It was just a great game,” Boeheim said after the Duke game. “I don’t think I’ve been involved in a better game in here that I can remember, where both teams played at such a high level.”It was almost like the NBA All-Star game. Or a game of pickup at Archbold Gymnasium. Even a game of NBA 2K Blacktop Mode. Every shot went in. Boeheim said he couldn’t remember a game with two typically good defensive teams where the score was so high. With the back-and-forth action and fluid rhythm to the game, it somehow exceeded the massive amount of hype that surrounded it in the proceeding months. “If you paid $3,400 on the market for a courtside seat, it was money well spent,” Boeheim said. “You should be happy that you did.“If you sold your tickets for this game, you should be ashamed because you made some money and missed an epic.”Afterward, C.J. Fair — who scored a career-high 28 and epitomized the pizazz of the game with a slew of silky jumpers and snazzy layups — said he loved playing in such an exhilarating game. Fair, who usually stays back to rebound, found himself leaking out in transition more than he usually does. That led to easy baskets, which are usually hard to come by in the ACC, even against lower-echelon teams.“This was a high-paced game,” Fair said. “It was exciting. I like games like this. Not so much of a scare, but I like high 80s, low 90s.”Yet Syracuse, a team with a big three that thrives in the open floor, rarely scores in the 80s or 90s. In fact, the Orange has only cracked the 80-point plateau five times this season. The last time it happened before the Duke game was against Binghamton on Dec. 7.With all due respect to 4-19 Binghamton, Syracuse could crack 80 against the Bearcats with its walk-ons. Nolan Hart would probably drop 20 by himself. Much of the reason Syracuse rarely puts up 80 is because it doesn’t get off as many shots as you might think. If you compare SU to Duke, for example, the Blue Devils are averaging four more shots per game. Fifty-eight compared to 54.3 for Syracuse. And that’s without considering the copious number of 3s Mike Krzyzewski’s team takes.It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or basketball aficionado to deduce that more shots — generally speaking, at least — lead to more points. Duke’s averaging 81.9 per game, while Syracuse is a whole 10 lower.Duke ran its style of offense against Syracuse. Get up 3s, and get ‘em up fast. But the Orange adjusted and still won.“We don’t get looked at for our scoring,” guard Ron Patterson said, “mostly for our defense, but I think we can score a lot.”Against Notre Dame two days later, though, when Mike Brey’s team deliberately slowed the pace down to the point of excruciatingly methodical offense, Syracuse rolled with it and came away with a victory. Sure, the performance wasn’t all too pretty — sans Trevor Cooney’s lights-out shooting — but SU found a way to get a W, as it has all season. Earlier in the year, Miami tried to work the shot clock down and nearly came away with an upset twice. Rather than try to change the pace, the Orange simply outplays the opposition at its own game.When Virginia works the ball around in a few weeks, the approach will likely be the same. In the ACC, the pace is often slower, just like it was when Syracuse was in the Big East. In order to win a championship, the Orange will need to continue to beat teams that work the ball around the perimeter with the hopes of cracking the zone. It’ll also need to beat at least one team that likes to run, like Creighton, Michigan or Florida, for example. When that fast-paced game comes, the Orange will be ready. It certainly was against Duke.Pace doesn’t matter for Syracuse. Talent does. Trevor Hass is an asst. sports editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @TrevorHass. Commentslast_img