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New Year’s Resolutions: Syracuse Orange

Dec 25, 2013, 7:00 PM EDT

syracuse AP

Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES SYRACUSE PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Run C.J. Fair off of screens

  • Why it will happen: Looking at his raw numbers, C.J. Fair looks like he is having his best season as a collegian. He’s averaging a career-high 17.8 points and grabbing 5.3 boards as Syracuse as worked their way to No. 2 in the country. On the surface, it looks great. Except that Fair’s efficiency is down this year. He’s yet to find his three-point stroke, which is part of the problem, but he’s also finding himself in too many isolation situations. He’s not a guy that beats people 1-on-1. He’s not a guy that scores with his back to the basket. He’s a spot-up shooter that is lethal curling off of a down-screen.
  • Why it won’t happen: Unfortunately, Syracuse has a number of guys on their roster that aren’t 1-on-1 players. Their front court is big and athletic, but they are dunkers and rebounders and that’s about it. Trevor Cooney is a lights-out shooter, but he’s a catch-and-shoot guy right now. Outside of Tyler Ennis and Fair, there isn’t really anyone else. So even though Fair is scoring just 0.693 points-per-possession (PPP) in isolation situations — which has contributed to his high-turnover rate — he’ll likely be forced to try to beat people 1-on-1 much of the year.

WHAT DOES SYRACUSE SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Give up fewer offensive rebounds and second chance points

  • Why it will happen: This is the issue that the Orange have every season. Only once in the KenPom era have the Orange finished the season in the top 200 in defensive rebounding percentage. That came in 2008, the worst season Syracuse had during that span. This year? Syracuse is grabbing 68.4% of the available defensive rebounds, putting them in the top half of the country. They’re better than they have been.
  • Why it won’t happen: Syracuse plays a zone, and anyone can tell you that it’s more difficult to rebound out of a zone than out of man-to-man defense. Add in the fact that the Orange have a tendency to try to rely on outjumping opponents instead of boxing out, and it’s not a surprise that they struggle cleaning the defensive glass.

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