Fixing the Orange

Syracuse has struggled in their last several games against Big East opponents. But there are things they can do in order to make a postseason run. breaks it down inside.

Syracuse has struggled down the stretch of the regular season, losing four of their last five games. The Orange have struggled in the half-court offense. Despite those struggles, all is not lost. Here are some quick fixes for Syracuse as they head into postseason play.

Create transition opportunities: Currently, Syracuse is fourth in the country in blocks per game, and fourteenth in steals per game. The Orange are giving up fewer than 60 points per game, while holding teams to 37.3% shooting from the field, good for third in the country. While those numbers show a very good Syracuse defense, it doesn't tell the whole story. In games against the better teams, they have not been able to get out in transition, creating easy basket opportunities. To help solve the offensive woes, look for Syracuse to try to create more 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 open floor opportunities, where the athleticism of the Orange players can showcase itself.

Rakeem Christmas must stay aggressive: Most of the season, Christmas looked lethargic. There was no consistent energy or productive play. However, in the last two games against DePaul and Georgetown, he put together two of his best performances of the season. A lot of that was due to the energy he brought on the defensive end of the floor. He attacked defenders that came into the lane, and was aggressive on the boards. If he can continue that type of play, it helps solve one of Syracuse's major problems heading into the conference tournament.

Make open shots: This may be the most obvious, and yet difficult, solution, but it is a valid one. Syracuse gets good looks most of the time. The only player consistently knocking those shots down has been C.J. Fair. Brandon Triche and James Southerland are both in shooting slumps, and the Orange need them to play well if they are to make a run. Over the last six games, Triche is 2-20 from beyond the arc, or 10%. During that same stretch, he is 20-63 from the floor, or 32%. With Brandon, the struggles are purely mental now. He is not that bad of a shooter. He has to get things turned around for Syracuse to become better offensively. James Southerland has struggled as well, though not quite to the level of Triche. Over the last five games, he is 11-38 (29%) from three-point range, and 20-65 (31%) overall. Both are getting good looks most of the time, though Southerland can force a couple shots here and there. If they continue to get open looks in the Big East Tournament and NCAA Tournament, they have to fall if Syracuse expects to win games.

Get the ball to C.J. Fair: The most consistent, and best, performer for Syracuse during the 2012-13 campaign, Fair is not used enough in the half-court offense. When teams zone the Orange, his mid-range game is the perfect answer. His knack to make plays around the rim and hit jumpers gives Syracuse the best chance to get consistent scoring when they aren't able to get out in transition. Running the offense through Fair more frequently could give the Orange a boost offensively.

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