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Three Up, Three Down: Syracuse

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Yes, I'm actually going to do this...somehow or another, I am going to do this. Let's try to parse three Ups from Saturday's debacle of a game. Oh, and the Down parts, but those should hit easier than a Trevor Cooney three.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Ups  (Seriously)

Drawing Contact/Getting To The Line. Wake Forest put in a positively Virginia Tech or Duke-esque performance getting to the line, drawing an insane 27 fouls and 35 free throws out of the Orange.  I'd consider that especially impressive given that zone defense are far less prone to creating foul trouble than more man-to-man looks.  I had one especially negative Deac fan I know tell me that it was just lucky, but that just doesn't jibe with actual facts and numbers,  Per kenpom, the Deacs are literally the eighth best team in the country at free throw attempts.  This team is good, really good, at drawing contact and getting to the line.  Hooray!

Doral Moore: Beast In Waiting? The big man (and boy is he ever big) was the one guy who had a universally good game.  In 10 minutes, he had 10 points (3-4 shooting, 4-5 from the line), 2 rebounds, and a single block.  He was active, going for lobs aggressively and using his size and athleticism to both finish and draw contact.  I loved it.  I have a theory as to why he and John Collins aren't currently playing more minutes, but I don't want to get too far into it because I may parlay it and some other thoughts into another piece soon, possibly.  Still, way to go Doral!  Get it.

Containing Cooney In The Second Half. Trevor Cooney, who went thermonuclear on the Deacs early on in both mind-blowing and infuriating fashion, was nowhere near as productive in the second frame.  He had 21 points in the first half, and "only" finished with 25.  Of course, part of that was because he didn't need to be as active, and containing Cooney allowed other guys to go nuts in the second, but hey, we didn't give him a new season high!

The Downs

The temptation to write "pretty much everything" is powerful, but let's try be more analytical than that, shall we?

Making Things Easy For Cuse on Offense. I was actually shocked when I saw the percentages.  Syracuse only shot 44% from the field and 40% from deep.  Now, that's far from good defense, but consider the following.  In the first half, the shot percentages for the Orange were 48% from the field and 50% from deep.  In the second half, the averages dropped considerably, 41% from the field and 27% from deep.  Keep in mind, it's not just that they shot a few triples in the second, they went 3-11.  That's considerable improvement, and probably worth noting.  That said, the buckets they did get in the second half were far, far too easy, with dunks aplenty and just all around shameful defense.  Not only that, by the time the defense shored up some, it was already too late.  The margin was all but insurmountable.  With a closer score, that may have actually factored into the game.  Of course, it's a chicken and egg situation.  I think a lot of those easy second half buckets were due to the fact that the team, for only the second time this year, gave up after getting bombarded early.

Wake's Offense. 34% shooting.  10% from three,  60% from the line.  18 turnovers.  Just putrid.  Absolutely putrid.  Other than Doral Moore, no one did well offensively.  Not a single player.  There's not much else to be said on that front, honestly.

Rebounding. Syracuse is one of the weaker rebounding teams in the nation, largely due to playing style, but Wake Forest gave up 16 offensive rebounds to the Orange, leading to 20 second chance points.  That is absolutely brutal, and really stuck in my craw.

The Bottom Line

This is one of those "burn the tape" type games.  Just burn the tape and move on.  I will simply say this.  I will cop to a mistake I made.  I now believe this team is not as good as I thought they were.  That having been said, though, I also don't believe for a single second that they're as awful as they looked on Saturday..  I still think as of this writing that Coach Manning has us on the right path and has earned some latitude, and I also believe we have a quality group of guys.  Let's just hope the guys learn from this and move on.

On to the next.  Go Deacs.

--SF