Men's Basketball

What we learned from Syracuse’s 96-81 loss to Boston College

Jessica Sheldon | Staff Photographer

Another bad loss has put 41-year Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim on pace to his first-ever loosing season.

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Syracuse suffered a 96-81 loss to Boston College (8-6, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) on Sunday at Conte Forum. The Orange (8-6, 0-1) lost to the Eagles by more than two possessions for the first time since 1997. SU also allowed a season-high 96 points just 11 days after giving up 93 to St. John’s. The loss leaves Syracuse still searching for answers about halfway through the year.

Here’s what we learned from the game.


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Tyler Lydon ‘has to’ play the 4

Syracuse began the season with sophomore Tyler Lydon playing at the 3, or small forward, and graduate transfer Andrew White playing the 2, or shooting guard. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has shuffled up his lineups and two months into the year, he said Lydon is “not effective” at the 3.

The Orange rolled out another new starting lineup on Sunday, with Frank Howard running the point, Tyus Battle at shooting guard, White at the 3, Lydon at the 4 and Taurean Thompson at center. Boeheim said Lydon “has to” play the 4. With Thompson being the Orange’s best low-post offensive player, that squeezes senior center Dajuan Coleman, who didn’t play at all on Sunday, out of the lineup.

Against Boston College, Tyler Roberson played 22 minutes, even occasionally with Thompson and Lydon. When Lydon temporarily bumped to the 3, the Orange wasn’t functional, Boeheim said.

“Tyler Lydon has to play the 4. He’s not effective at the 3,” Boeheim said. “And I thought Tyler Roberson gave us some good play and Taurean as well.”

“If Tyler (Lydon) doesn’t play the 3, Dajuan isn’t going to play. Or one of those guys (Roberson and Thompson) is not going to play. And Andrew (White) also is more effective at the 3 than he is at the 2. That’s really it.”

Even against one of the worst offensive teams in the ACC, the Orange’s guards struggled to defend

Boston College entered the game with the 219th worst adjusted offensive efficiency in the country, per Kenpom.com, and the Eagles still wreaked havoc against Syracuse.

“Our problem is our guards defensively,” Boeheim said. “They’re just not finding players. They’re not finding the shooters.”

Boeheim has pointed out the guards’ ability to track down shooters throughout the season, and the issue crept up again against Boston College. Guard John Gillon said that once the ball got into the high post, they moved too close to that location. It’s something players are taught not to do and that’s how shooters were open on the outside, he said.

“We’re not rotating right when they pass the ball in the high post,” Gillon said. “When they turn a certain way, we’re supposed to be over here (on the wings) on the shooters and then when they turn back the other way, we’re supposed to rotate up and take the next shooter and we weren’t doing that.”

The ACC is going to be a gauntlet, for better or worse

Boston College went 0-18 in conference play last season and entered this year projected as the worst team in the conference. The Orange gave up 96 points to BC and it’ll likely get only tougher the rest of the season. The ACC is arguably the top conference in college basketball this season, leaving SU at a crossroads. It’ll have chances to win games against top competition and play its way back into NCAA Tournament contention or it’ll buckle as bad as it did on Sunday and crumble over the next two months.

The challenge of playing in the ACC has been the elephant in the room as Syracuse stumbled before league competition. On Sunday, it stared the Orange in the face and delivered a tough blow. In the next 10 days alone, SU will face Miami, Pittsburgh (which lost to No. 24 Notre Dame in overtime) and Virginia Tech (which beat No. 5 Duke by 14). By the same token, Georgia Tech upset No. 9 North Carolina on Saturday, an example of a lesser team picking up a good win over a superior opponent, something SU will have to do going forward.

“It’s a great conference. We know that,” Boeheim said last week. “We know that. We’ll have to get better.”

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