Will anything change offensively for Syracuse basketball? (Mike’s Mailbox) – syracuse.com

Syracuse, N.Y. — There was so much anticipation for Syracuse’s 2019-20 season-opener.

Thanks to the ACC’s new 20-game schedule and the conference’s attempt to boost the ACC Network, Syracuse’s season debut came against the reigning national champion Virginia Cavaliers.

Dave Bing was in the house. So was Carmelo Anthony. The ACC Network has its temporary pre-game set on site at the Carrier Dome.

Then the game happened. Virginia throttled the Orange 48-34. That’s the final; not the halftime score.

Shortly after the final buzzer, or actually before the game even ended in some cases, the emails and tweets starting flooding into Mike’s Mailbox. There’s no putting this sort of thing off, so let’s get to those questions.

Got a question for Mike Waters? Email him at mwaters@syracuse.com or find him on Twitter at @MikeWatersSYR.

Q: When will anything change offensively? We’ve had the scorers to at least compete playing iso ball in the past, but it doesn’t seem like we have that this year. Something is going to have to change to have success in the future.

Tyler R.

Mike: I have sensed a lot of anxiety among the members of Orange Nation in the days since Syracuse’s loss to Virginia. I get it, 34 points is pretty awful. So is 23 percent field goal shooting. And 5-for-29 shooting on 3-pointers.

And Tyler is right. Things do have to change on offense for Syracuse.

The isolation ball concept worked well enough with guys like Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett. But this year’s team doesn’t have guys who simply take their defender off the dribble.

This year’s offense is going to rely on 3-point shooters, who need ball movement, player movement and screens to get open.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim alluded to this after Wednesday’s game, saying that the Orange did a poor job of setting good screens. He even said he needs to coach them to do better in that area.

The other thing to remember is this: Virginia is one of the top defensive teams in the country. Defense is almost always ahead of offense at the beginning of the year. Note that Syracuse’s defense held Virginia to just 48 points on 40 percent shooting.

Those 48 points were more than enough, though, because Virginia’s defense was ready. Syracuse’s offense wasn’t.

Hopefully, that will change.

Q: That was the worst Syracuse performance I can remember. I also watched several other ACC tip-off games and no teams looks good. Maybe the ACC needs to re-think this early season scheduling?

Barry G.

Mike: Barry, I don’t know how old you are, but Syracuse’s 34-point offensive showing against Virginia was the worst performance any Orange fan under the age of 75 has ever seen. The last time Syracuse scored less than 34 points was in a 49-28 loss to Sampson Navy on Jan. 13, 1945. (At least it was a road game).

More to your point, though, I agree that few if any of the ACC teams that played in the seven conference matchups this past week looked good.

It’s too soon in the season for teams, many of which are integrating new players into their systems or have returning players in vastly different roles, to face another good team.

I will admit that I paid more attention to the ACC games than I would’ve normally given to a Syracuse-Eastern Washington or North Carolina-Elon game. But what I saw was pretty ugly.

Virginia Tech vs. Clemson was brutal. Miami was horrible in its loss to Louisville. Georgia Tech and N.C. State staged an eye-gouger.

I do hope that ACC officials reconsider the Opening Night idea. Maybe give teams the opportunity to schedule a couple non-conference games first. It’s what the Big Ten, which also has a 20-game schedule, does.

Q: When was the last time Syracuse’s starting center scored the team’s first points of the season?

Jameson F.

Mike: You gotta love questions that the reader knows is going to send me waist-deep into a pile of media guides and old box scores.

Well, Jameson, I’ve got the answer.

Syracuse center Bourama Sidibe scored the first basket of the season for the Orange in Wednesday’s loss to Virginia.

The last time a center was the first Syracuse player to score to start out a season happened in the 2010-11 season-opener against Northern Iowa.

Fab Melo

SU #51 Fab Melo celebrates their 79-73 win over St. John’s in the third round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Dennis Nett / The Post-Standard

Syracuse missed its first five shots, including three 3-pointers, but then freshman center Fab Melo grabbed the rebound off his own missed shot and converted the put-back at the game’s 16:51 mark.

Syracuse went onto a 68-46 victory. Melo finished with four points and three rebounds in 18 minutes.

Q: I wonder if you might know what time Syracuse would be playing Friday, Nov. 29? I know there are two games at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Craig S.

Mike: Craig, I can’t give you an exact answer, but I can help you a little.

Syracuse will play in the NIT Season Tip-Off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Wednesday, Nov. 27 and Friday, Nov. 29.

On the 27th, Syracuse will play Oklahoma State in a game that’s scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Ole Miss and Penn State will play in the second game of the double-header.

On Friday, the losers of Wednesday’s games will meet at 7 p.m. The two winners from Wednesday will play in the late game.

Mike Waters is a reporter for the Syracuse Post-Standard and Syracuse.com. Got a comment or idea for a story? He can be reached via email at mwaters@syracuse.com.

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