Three Takeaways from Jim Boeheim’s Press Conference
By Nick Dugan
1. If the Syracuse starters are tired, they won’t say so
Frank Howard and Tyus Battle each played all 40 minutes of last night’s First Four matchup with Arizona State. On the year, the two guards are averaging over 38.5 minutes per game and rank first and second in the country in that category. The two continue to field questions about how the prolonged court time affects their play, and they refuse to admit that they’re tired. “Once you understand it’s your job,” Frank Howard said, “you want to start enjoying it. And we enjoy it.” For Tyus Battle, the mentality has been the same all year. “We go on the court. We play and we fight,” he said. It will be worth watching how this schedule of every other night alters the play of the Orange starters, no matter how optimistic they appear about it.
2. The defense against Arizona State needs to carry over into Friday
When asked what worked well against the Sun Devils on Wednesday that he hoped would continue, Jim Boeheim mentioned the defense. “I think our defense was pretty good,” he said. “We made some bad mistakes defensively, but Arizona [State] is a high scoring team. They average in the eighties, and we held them to 56 points.” The Orange not only held ASU to fewer than 35 percent from behind the arc, but the lengthy zone limited the penetration opportunities of Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II. Arizona State made it to the free throw line only ten times, and converted just three of those shots. The Orange will have its hands full with TCU on Friday, as the Horned Frogs shoot 40 percent from downtown and rank second in the nation in assists per game with 18.8.
3. Jim Boeheim had high praise for Jamie Dixon
“We wouldn’t be here if [Jamie Dixon] were still at Pittsburgh.” While Boeheim didn’t expand on his comment, one might take it to mean that a Jamie Dixon-led Pitt team could have stolen a bid from Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament. For reference, the Panthers finished the year 8-24 and a winless 0-18 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. At the helm of TCU in the past two seasons, Dixon has led his squad to a 45-26 mark and a No. 10 ranking in the AP Poll at one point this season. Boeheim believes that this Dixon-led team is a whole different animal than any he has faced in the past. “I think this is a much better offensive team,” he said. “We got hurt more, when we lost to Pittsburgh on the defensive end.” At 83 points per game, TCU can certainly score at a high clip. The chess match between two familiar coaches is sure to be entertaining, to say the least.
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