SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- After starting the season 6-0 and winning the Battle 4 Atlantis, expectations around the Syracuse program increased, and rightfully so.
Like any sports team, program or organization, the first loss is always the hardest. Syracuse is no different. After last night's loss, there was plenty of overreaction and frustration.
Unranked Wisconsin came into the Carrier Dome last night and upset No. 14 Syracuse, 66-58 in overtime.
Three morning-after thoughts from SU's first loss of the season:
- Free throws matter: As I wrote last week, Syracuse has historically struggled from the charity stripe, especially recently. On the season, the Orange are shooting 68.5% from the line this year, which, in retrospect to prior years, is about average. Last night, however, Syracuse shot 55% (11-for-20) from the line. Anyone can point to this and say, "That's why they lost!" And, probably so. For a program that typically struggles from the free throw line, this team is no different.
- Rebounds: Wednesday's loss to Wisconsin was the worst rebounding performance I have ever seen at any level of basketball. Syracuse was out-rebounded 51-25. The Badgers had more defensive rebounds than Syracuse totaled. Whoa. Wisconsin had 18 second-chance points on sixteen offensive rebounds. Not only is that astonishing, it's absurd. It's understood that Syracuse will struggle on the boards this season, but to get doubled-up at home? Inexcusable.
- Coaching blunder: Coach Boeheim's decision to sub-in Kaleb Joseph to Tyler Roberson with 13:39 remaining in regulation was a mistake. The Orange were playing a Wisconsin team that abused and exposed their lack-of-size on the glass. So, what does coach Boeheim do? He subs in his smallest guard, 6-foot-3 Kaleb Joseph, for the team's best rebounder, Tyler Roberson. Now, Roberson did have four fouls and it was the right move to take him out. But, why not sub in Dajuan Coleman, who is arguably the second best rebounder on the team when given opportunity. He's coming off a great tournament in the Bahamas and had momentum coming into last night's game. It's something that I'll never understand.