Miami Thoughts | Syracusefan.com

Miami Thoughts

General20

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Lets start our analysis at the first television timeout of the game. Miami had already hit three deep three-point shots, but Syracuse had a 15-11 lead. At this point the game had the look and feel of a blowout. How many times have we seen it before? Some random team hits a few deep shots early, and has trouble stopping Syracuse on the other end. You know Syracuse is going to tighten up on defense and those long shots will stop falling. You assume the lead is going to grow and grow.


What you don't assume is that one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country is going to go roughly a quarter of the game without scoring, but that's what happened.


Luckily Syracuse's defense did tighten up, and the threes did stop falling for Miami, and once this happened their scoring in general followed suit. It was a good thing for Syracuse that this happened because they, uncharacteristically, stopped scoring altogether. At the 1:46 mark of the first half Jeremi Grant went right down the center of Miami's defense for a dunk. Syracuse's next field goal came on a CJ Fair three pointer with 11:16 left in the second half. That's over ten minutes without a filed goal.


Lets break down this 10+ minute field goal drought.


The slow pace of the game meant that Syracuse only had 15 offensive possessions in this stretch. In the last 1:46 of the first half Syracuse only had one possession, and that was a turnover by Ennis.


14 possessions came during the second half. Two possessions resulted in points through foul shots, one was another Ennis turnover, one was a missed lay up by Grant.


The other ten possessions were missed jump shots. Cooney missed five three pointers, Ennis missed one, Fair missed a jump shot, Grant missed a jump shot, Christmas missed a hook shot, and Keita missed a floater.


None of these shots were bad ones (in fact I'd say Cooney got more clean looks in this game than he has had in any game this year) they just didn't fall. Going cold from the field happens at least once to every team, every year, in every level of basketball. Want some examples? Last year's Miami Heat team was one of the best in the history of basketball, they averaged 103ppg, but were held to 77 on a random January night. The 09-10 SU team was probably our best offensive team in recent memory but they had to squeak by a horrible DePaul team 59-57 (in a game played at a much faster pace than this one – Syracuse took 10 more shots against DePaul than they did against Miami despite forcing fewer turnovers and grabbing fewer offensive rebounds).


But my favorite example comes from Syracuse's last disappointing five point victory against a bad Miami team. A 54-49 win in 2003. Maybe someone can reach back into their memory and figure out how that year turned out?


Shooting is hard. Even the best in the world have off days. This was one of them, and luckily it came against a team bad enough to beat anyway. I see no reason to believe this will be any kind of a trend. Especially since Syracuse's slump didn't even last an entire game. Take away that one really bad ten minute stretch and Syracuse shot 47% for the game which is almost exactly their season average.


If I'm going to nit-pick I'd say that Syracuse took too many deep shots because they were open and because they have won all year with these shots. I would have liked them to recognize a little more quickly that their deep shots were not falling and force the ball inside more. Also, I'd point out that Fair only took one shot during this stretch. When things are going bad he needs to see the ball more.


Miami's coach Jim Larranaga is a good one, but he is getting far too much credit for his game plan. Slowing the game down and clogging the lane would have worked great against last year's Syracuse team (or the year before) but it was a fluke that it worked this year. Even against an off-the-charts bad Syracuse performance, Miami could not get a win.


This year's team is efficient and likes to play at a slow pace. This year's team does not drive the lane nearly as much as the last few year's teams did. Offensively they were able to get the shots they wanted. Defensively, Miami made Syracuse look better than they really are because they were unprepared to attack our zone.


As for Miami's defense, it seems like a lot of fans are confused about it. They play a 2-2-1 match up zone. A match up zone is kind of half way between a zone and a man to man. Everybody takes their spots (two on the baseline, two at the free throw line, and one out by the three point line) but then they match up to the closest possible player and pretty much play man.


This is a good defense because its confusing to play against. It looks like a zone but plays more like man to man. Its bad because its inconsistent. How many times did Syracuse go right down the lane for a lay up or dunk? Off the top of my head, Grant had the play of the day running right down the middle of the lane untouched, and got fed by Ennis for a dunk. Fair had to spin around a defender before getting a free lay up. Ennis had two lay up down the stretch (although to be fair, the second was spectacular). These kinds of things don't happen against true zones, and its not like they compensated by blanketing our outside shooters. Cooney had 8 or 9 open three pointers which is far more than he has had in any other game.


Player Evaluations:


Ennis – 3 of 5 on layups. At this point I'm more concerned with his finishing around the basket than anything else. In this game Ennis made two layups when it really mattered and that is a good thing. He seemed uncomfortable shooting from the outside, throwing up two three's (both missed) only as a last option. On defense he had 3 steals and looked great.


Cooney – Had his first bad shooting game of the year. Some people point to the St. John's game as a bad game, but that was a game where he chose not to shoot because Syracuse had better offensive options. This was the first game where he had open shots that could have put the game away and he simply failed to hit them. Every shooter has a game like this. The good news is, he still contributed 11 points, including the two free throws that iced the win.


Fair – I thought he was the best player in the game, and I wish he had a few more shots. 15 points on 14 shots might not seem overly efficient, but in a game like this, its more than efficient enough to get the job done.


Grant – Forced some drives he shouldn't have. If Miami had anything going for them it was size, and forcing the ball into waiting defenders is playing into their hands. Against teams that play off him, he can't be afraid to take some mid range shots. He's not a great shooter, but hitting just one will open things up greatly for him.


Christmas – 28 minutes at center - Interestingly he played zero minutes as a forward (though I think this had more to do with Keita than him). He did some good and some bad things. To his credit most of the good things came down the stretch when we needed them. He was an absolute animal on the boards going down the stretch, but it made me wonder where that was in the first half. Offensively he had a few hiccups, but proved he can score some as well . . . especially when he hits his free throws. I expect to see Syracuse to continue to look for him even though right now they are not great at getting him the ball.


Gbinije – He is going to play more when the offense is going strong and the defense needs some help. He is also going to play more when we have a lead we need to hold on to. Neither of those things happened in this game, so this was really not Gbinije's time to shine. His minutes were understandably low.


Keita – 12 minutes at center – Probably his worst game of the season. Miami's big guys pushed him around (which is not completely unusual) and that affected his hands (which is a problem he has not suffered from to this degree in quite a while). He dropped a number of passes and rebounds. The most striking thing was how Miami was willing to leave Keita alone under the basket (and how much more respect Christmas got). Its been a while since Keita could not make someone pay for completely ignoring him under the basket, but this was a bad game for him (after quite a good stretch of basketball).
 

bballbeadle

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Ahhh, General. Good to read your analysis, as always. I missed the game entirely due to Delta airlines. This seems like a game that was hideous to attend or watch. Mysteriously, my DVR didn't record the game, either, so it seems like the Universe was protecting my fragile fan ego. Or something. Hmp.
 

jordoo

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Great breakdown as usual general20! Thanks

I didn't get to watch until ESPN3 showed the replay later on and my Dad didn't watch when at all. When he called to ask what happened I told him it was one of those games where we couldn't make a shot for over 10min and Cooney missed some of the best looks he's had all season.

I do feel that Ennis can be more aggressive or recognize sooner that he should be more aggressive off the bounce. Completely agree about CJ needing to shoot more when we go cold. We won because Miami wasn't good enough to take advantage of our worst shooting performance of the season and it bodes well that we won the game IMO.

Of note I think that we missed DC2 as he would have forced them to collapse inside a bit or give up offensive boards to him.
 
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orange2win

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Of note I think that we missed DC2 as he would have forced them to collapse inside a bit or give up offensive boards to him.

We play them again in a little over 2 weeks. We shall see what difference Coleman makes
 

jordoo

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We play them again in a little over 2 weeks. We shall see what difference Coleman makes

I doubt we shoot it as bad no matter what effect Coleman has but I will be interested to see if he can do damage against that defense our draw enough attention to open things up more.
 

Dave85

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Besides the best thing about the game was when it was over, the second best thing was Cooney's clutch free throws at the end of the Miami game. Making those shots are going to pay dividends down the road in a game when it really matters.
 

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