What I Learned From the Syracuse v. Georgetown Matchup
Looking at the box score after the game for analysis of what I just watched doesn't do the game justice. It tells me Greg Monroe had just 8 points and 4 rebounds, while turning the ball over six times and fouling out. Coming into the game, I said that Monroe would be the key player if the Hoyas were going to come into the Carrier Dome and steal one from Syracuse. So needless to say, I was disappointed watching the 6'11" Sophomore, but he did do some good things. After the first few minutes, Monroe played more aggressive on the offensive end, playing the high post well and opening the perimeter for jumpers. He turned and faced the basket and looked to shoot or too often, looked to pass. Credit some of his turnover to the cutting guards or low-post big men who fumbled two of his passes. You can also credit Monroe for holding Syracuse's two big men in check when he was in. Defensively, he will hold his ground, with his arms straight up and wait for you to make a play before he reacts. He lured Arinze Onuaku into an offensive foul and turnover early in the game making it known that Monroe came to play - defensively at least. He only took seven shots on the offensive end, none off the dribble-drive from the high post. It was his passing that would have gotten him space for a 10'-12' jumper, but he never got started.
On the Syracuse end, Wes Johnson's offensive game continues to impress. I watched him hit a tough fade-away jumper that he just kissed off of the glass as well as a deep 3-point shot from the wing. He can score from just about anywhere on the court, which makes him so difficult to stay in front of. Defensively, I knew the long-armed Johnson played well in the bottom of the 2-3 zone, but it's so much more than that. He plays on his toes and anticipates skip passes or lobs, which he will steal and take the other way in transition. On penetration and the low post, Johnson becomes difficult to score on because he is 6'7" with a long wingspan and great leaping ability. In this top-ten match up, he had three steals and four blocks.
Another player whose stock is on the rise is back-up forward, sophomore Kris Joseph. Joseph is another terrific athlete, who is dangerous offensively. He is long and quick and uses that to his advantage, getting into the lane for a floater or pulling up for a short baseline jump shot. He has been extremely effective coming off the bench all season long and would probably start for most teams across the nation, but this is what makes the Orange so difficult to play. The length and athleticism in that 2-3 zone plus the offensive ability of everyone on the team. Rick Jackson and Onuaku bang down low, while Johnson, Joseph, and point guard Brandon Triche can get into the lane with ease or score from the mid-range, while Senior Guard Andy Rautins can hit from almost anywhere outside the 3-point line.
Right now, Syracuse has played themselves into a #1 seed in March and have looked quite good doing so.