Canes Can't Overcome the Cuse Zone; Drop 3rd Straight

Canes Can't Overcome the Cuse Zone; Drop 3rd Straight

PhilWood
Looking to rebound from back to back losses to Boston College and Virginia, the Canes welcomed the Syracuse Orange and their three-headed monster of Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett, and Frank Howard to the Watsco Center. What ensued was a 62-55 slugfest that saw the Canes fall short for the third time in as many games.

Early on the plan was clear. The Canes were going to rely on their shooters to shoot over Syracuse's infamous 2-3 zone. In the first 10+ minutes of the first half shots were being chucked up from the edge of the U, from the Watsco Center logo and everywhere in between. For a team that looked lost against Virginia's vaunted defense on Tuesday, Canes fans were hoping for a more aggressive, cohesive looking offense. Instead, Saturday was more of the same, as the Canes struggled to consistently get anything going offensively.

The first possession of the game was perfect. The Canes passed the ball around the perimeter, Chris Lykes drove to the hoop, dished it to DJ and DJ knocked down the open 3. The dribble drive and kick out looked like it was going to be the plan of attack, but the Canes went away from it, and their offense suffered for it. After that first possession it was a 3 point shooting contest. One the Canes lost. The next three shots for the Canes were deep 3s. Way too deep. And when the Canes did try to get the ball inside, they struggled to do anything with it. Amp missed an easy jumper in the paint and turned it over twice early while trying to lob the ball to the bigs down low. To put into perspective how ugly it was, the Canes didn't score a two point bucket until 7:34 remaining when Walker made a heavily contested layup on a designed inbounds play that wasn't simply "chuck the ball down the court".

But then something changed for the Canes, and a spark ignited. Down 20-14 the Canes decided to force the action, getting inside the arc no matter what it took. Chris Lykes forced the pace, and open men around the perimeter started to appear. A 9-1 run gave the Canes the lead for a brief moment, before Cuse took it back. Heading into the half the score was 25-25, which felt like a victory for a Canes team that was offensively dreadful for the first 10+ minutes of the game.

Look at some of the first half numbers for the Canes:

32.0% from the field including 3-15 (20%) from deep. The Canes got to the stripe 10 times but only knocked down 6. They also gave up 6 offensive boards to Syracuse which led to second chance points, while recording 6 turnovers, including a very ugly one at the end of the first half, when the Canes could have settled for the last shot, but Newton lost control of the dribble and gave the Orange a chance to take the lead. And yet despite all of this the game was tied. For as ugly as the first half was, things were looking positive.

The second half plan was different. The goal was to attack the zone and win that way. The first possession was great. A missed shot and offensive board which led to an easy 3 for Walker.

But then the Canes went cold and the defense, which was so solid in the 1st half, looked tired coming out of the break. The Orange came out hot knocking down their first 5 shots which sparked a 15-0 run in just over 5 minutes. The Canes found themselves down by 12 before Chris Lykes stopped the run with a huge 3 pointer. This was followed by a 3 from Lonnie Walker which had one of the best bounces the Canes have probably ever gotten, and the lead was cut in half going into the under 12 timeout. The run continued to 15-3, when Ebuka Izundu knocked down a layup to tie the game at 43. Like the first half, the Canes first two point basket came late, when Anthony Lawrence knocked down his first basket of the game with 10:45 remaining. After the tie, Cuse answered with a 9-2 run to open up a 52-45 lead.

Despite a huge dunk from Lonnie Walker that halted the run and brought the crowd to their feet, the Canes weren't able to get any closer than 3 for the rest of the game. Up 3 with 1:27 remaining, Battle put the final nail in the Canes coffin with a 3 that extended the lead to 6. Battle would finish the game with 13 points on just 4-14 shooting.

Frank Howard led the game with 18 points, while Oshae Brisett added 16 to go along with 12 boards. Down the stretch, Freshman Marek Dolezaj was huge for the Orange. He was able to hit a clutch two and then step to the line as just a 69% free throw shooter on the season, and knock down a pair with under 30 seconds left. He finished the game with 11.

Chris Lykes led the way for the Canes with 14 points, but shot just 2-10 from beyond the arc. As a team the Canes were 7-31 from deep (22.6%) and shot just 33.9% from the field. This compared to Syracuse's 48.1% from the field and 31.3% from beyond the arc, tells you how many more opportunities the Canes had, but how unable they were to capitalize.

What does this all mean for a Canes team that is getting dangerously close to the bubble? Frankly, it's bad. A complete meltdown against BC, followed by two home losses where the offense couldn't get anything going, doesn't exactly inspire hope in a team that looked determined to prove themselves after the loss of Bruce Brown. There are only 4 games left in the season and the Canes now sit at .500 in ACC play. With a trip to South Bend looming on Monday night, the Canes need to solve their problems quickly or find themselves slipping further and further out of legitimate contention.
 

Comments (19)

This team hasn't had an offensive identity all year. No players are getting better. Obviously coach L has lost assistants that made his past teams improve during the year. Bruce wasn't playing that great despite L claiming he was. Time to clean house and find some new offensive assistants. Otherwise coach L will be next
 
I'd rather stay home than go to the NIT. Like using a bullhorn to tell a recruit (if we had one) "We're not among the Top 68 teams in the country." To say no one cares about the NIT is a vast understatement.

This is a very young team. Unlike the Kadji-Larkin team where everyone seemed 22 or older, this team has one Senior who plays (Newton). There is no on-court leader who has emerged. Put all that together with the BB injury and we are not better than our ACC record says we are.

I expect we will still make the tourney and maybe even win a game if we get the right draw.
 
Couple of us from around the country were going to NYC but a golf weekend in Florida is now the move. The kids would probably like to play NIT so what ever they want. We are young I don't see Lonnie going to NBA just yet but he may not want to stay here in this "system" either. Lykes is not going anywhere and will entertain us for 3 more years. I don't see BB going anywhere unless its a transfer. Coach has some splaining to do. Blake doesn't like any investigation stuff period . Add that to a very boring product and coach maybe gone. i would prefer he fix it but some guys are just too set in their ways. CMR may be too. You have to play the cards you have not the cards you wish you had
 
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Ever see an AAU team that doesn't run and gun? I haven't.

Even if UNC, Duke and Kentucky didn't have their storied histories, their style of play is attractive to athletic, skilled kids. Because of that, I sorta said "Wow" to myself when Coach L was able to actually sign the type of kids that his predecessors had been unable to even get mild interest from. James may not like the hint of scandal; what about Frenk? He may be the joker in this deck.
 
I think it's becoming clear that Coach L's time here has peaked. Kids aren't getting better, the offensive identity is non-existent, and he doesn't seem to be able to self evaluate and correct the issues. We'll never be Duke but we should be better than this right now. Best recruiting class in forever and we likely miss the tournament... that's coaching plain and simple.
 
I wouldn't say peaked yet as his recruiting keeps getting better but he needs help with his 1/2 court offense. He may be one of those guys who refuses help. i hope not but its clear he is looking very foolish on a national stage. Something or someone has to be changed
 
Hate to read this (from The Herald):

"UM students were AWOL: UM students apparently decided to work on their suntans, because the majority of the student seats were empty. Miami students showed up for last Tuesday’s game against top-ranked Virginia, and for the ESPN game against fifth-ranked Duke in mid-January. Otherwise, they have not done much to add energy to the Watsco Center."

I know, I know -- a Saturday afternoon in February when there's just soooo much to do in Miami, the game started too early, ended too late, too hot or too chilly, etc etc. And just a few years ago, they had poor Coach L delivering pizzas to the dorms to stoke student interest. Maybe time to have to trot him out again. Or, better yet, make attendance a "for credit" course, mandatory for graduation.

Seriously, I've heard a zillion times how the population-at-large in Miami is a "front-running" fan base. OK, fine. But that should NOT apply to students at the school.
 
Hate to read this (from The Herald):

"UM students were AWOL: UM students apparently decided to work on their suntans, because the majority of the student seats were empty. Miami students showed up for last Tuesday’s game against top-ranked Virginia, and for the ESPN game against fifth-ranked Duke in mid-January. Otherwise, they have not done much to add energy to the Watsco Center."

I know, I know -- a Saturday afternoon in February when there's just soooo much to do in Miami, the game started too early, ended too late, too hot or too chilly, etc etc. And just a few years ago, they had poor Coach L delivering pizzas to the dorms to stoke student interest. Maybe time to have to trot him out again. Or, better yet, make attendance a "for credit" course, mandatory for graduation.

Seriously, I've heard a zillion times how the population-at-large in Miami is a "front-running" fan base. OK, fine. But that should NOT apply to students at the school.

Win games and the fans will come.
 
Until recently, we had won a lot of games and been ranked! And, that's beside the point when you are talking about students at the school! Win or lose, the students should be there!

I have never understood the lack of interest in ACC games by our on-campus undergrads -- unless, of course, it is a highly ranked opponent. Would love to get some insight from those with more knowledge. I know the typical response that our students are apathetic, they have other things to do like go to the beach, our team is boring to watch, etc.

My response is why doesn't two hours of basketball, played a short walk from campus housing, not rank higher on the scale of things to do while an undergrad. For comparison purposes, let's see how many students are at the game tonight in South Bend. The Irish has had a pretty disappointing season as well -- in large part because of Colson's injury -- but I suspect that the comparison between ND undergrads tonight and the students at the Syracuse game on Saturday will be night and day. Yes, they don't have the beach in South Bend, but going to a noon game on Saturday doesn't take away the ability to do other things after the game.
 
I have never understood the lack of interest in ACC games by our on-campus undergrads -- unless, of course, it is a highly ranked opponent. Would love to get some insight from those with more knowledge. I know the typical response that our students are apathetic, they have other things to do like go to the beach, our team is boring to watch, etc.

My response is why doesn't two hours of basketball, played a short walk from campus housing, not rank higher on the scale of things to do while an undergrad. For comparison purposes, let's see how many students are at the game tonight in South Bend. The Irish has had a pretty disappointing season as well -- in large part because of Colson's injury -- but I suspect that the comparison between ND undergrads tonight and the students at the Syracuse game on Saturday will be night and day. Yes, they don't have the beach in South Bend, but going to a noon game on Saturday doesn't take away the ability to do other things after the game.

The old, "our students are from NY and don't like college football" doesn't apply here, because it's freaking basketball, the one college sport kids in the NE really like. I don't fucking, know, they suck (the students)? ND is playing better lately. They've won 3 of 4 after losing like 7 straight. I'm sure their attendance and student attendance will be fine.
 
The old, "our students are from NY and don't like college football" doesn't apply here, because it's freaking basketball, the one college sport kids in the NE really like. I don't fucking, know, they suck (the students)? ND is playing better lately. They've won 3 of 4 after losing like 7 straight. I'm sure their attendance and student attendance will be fine.

It's funny you mention the NE angle -- I almost referenced it as well. Yeah, I fully expect a packed Joyce Center tonight, and I will admit to being completely jealous of that type of atmosphere. I've always understood our inability to fail to sell out HRS (which isn't anything few from our Orange Bowl days), but I hoped that we might develop a loyal group of undergrads (perhaps 1,000) that would become the core of our fan base and would be regular attendees. As an alum from the early 90's and the early days of Coach Hammy in the Big East, I know that the Watsco Center and competitive basketball would have been a dream for many of us.

It must be so frustrating for this team and staff to see the current state of our program, after so much promise and momentum coming into this season, and fan apathy is a critical component.
 
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I hate to say this but I think the reason for lack of attendance is that student tickets are free. When I went to UM I thought this was the best part of going to school there, because I loved that I could go to any sporting event for free. But the problem this causes is that if something better comes up on a Saturday at noon, and an unranked UM team is playing an unranked Syracuse team, casual fans have no reason to blow off their other plans.

I have friends who went to Notre Dame and family who currently goes to Virginia Tech. Even though both teams are having poor/mediocre seasons, the games are still crowded because the students get tickets based on a lottery system. At Notre Dame I believe you sign up for a package and can only go to a certain number of games each year. So when one of those games comes up, you feel obliged to go no matter how bad the team or the opponent is, because you paid for the tickets and it's one of the few games you're going to see live all year.

I doubt (and hope) that Miami will never implement a system like this, because the students who love college sports get to go to Division 1 events for free whenever they want, but the current system also makes going to a game a very casual event. It's a wake up on a Saturday morning and say "Hey, did you know we're playing today at noon? You wanna go?" type thing, rather than something you are thinking about doing all week, because until you walk into that stadium you don't even have a ticket.
 
Until recently, we had won a lot of games and been ranked! And, that's beside the point when you are talking about students at the school! Win or lose, the students should be there!

And the games where packed when we were ranked.
 

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