No. 16 Syracuse’s frontcourt struggles continue despite 77-57 win over Wake Forest

first_imgMaeva Djaldi-Tabdi stationed herself on the left block and squatted, backing down Wake Forest’s Raegyn Branch. She pivoted right before turning over her left shoulder with a shot attempt, but Branch was there to block it. The center hustled back on defense and into the paint, but committed a foul. On Syracuse’s next possession, Djaldi-Tabdi got another chance. Again, she was stuffed. She grabbed the offensive rebound and went up, but was denied again. Fourteen seconds later, her field goal didn’t hit the rim. A giveaway led to her being subbed out, having totaled four missed shots, a turnover, and a foul in just three minutes. Djaldi-Tabdi’s struggles epitomized the inconsistent post-play that the Orange have been suffering of late. A game after SU’s forwards combined to shoot 11-of-37 and allowed 28 points in the paint, No. 16 Syracuse (19-5, 8-3 Atlantic Coast) struggled to make an impact inside Sunday in its 77-57 win over Wake Forest (10-15, 1-11). The Demon Deacons dominated the Orange by the basket, blocking six shots and grabbing 18 offensive rebounds that led to 32 points in the paint. SU’s 13 3-pointers, including nine in the first half, helped propel it to victory, but the win had its share of difficulties.“Size always matters down there in the post,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “We just wasn’t getting a body on them. They had 12 (offensive rebounds) in the first half…12 is way too many in a half.”Wake Forest’s rotation, which featured five players 6-foot-1 or taller, proved to be an issue on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Syracuse struggled to push inside shots over the Demon Deacons’ forwards. In turn, it shifted its offensive game plan to the perimeter.  AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU drained three 3-pointers in the opening eighty-four seconds, prompting Wake Forest to call a quick timeout. Led by Miranda Drummond, the Orange hit five triples in the first quarter alone. The Demon Deacons kept pace by corralling seven offensive rebounds in their own poor shooting quarter (5-of-20).While SU’s shooting kept it ahead of Wake Forest, its defense prevented it from allowing the lead to grow. The frontcourt’s rebounding struggles correlated almost directly to Syracuse’s guards’ defense on its full-court press. When the Orange used the press, the Demon Deacons sliced through it easily. After getting up court, Wake Forest often had opportunities that left SU outnumbered. Even if a bad shot went up, it was hard for Syracuse to box out because of the numbers disadvantage.“We have no scheme for that, we can’t box out 3-on-2, it’s just tough to play that way,” Hillsman said. “Having them play in unsettled situations, it’s tough to box out when you play unsettled.”Susie Teuscher | Digital Design EditorAfter scoring 31 of its 39 first-half points outside the paint, the Orange tried again to get their inside game going to start the second half. Mangakahia fed Amaya Finklea-Guity deep in the paint after the center had secured post position, but her righty post hook was met with 6-foot-2 Ivana Raca’s third block of the game.Wake Forest scored the first points of the third quarter, but then Kiara Lewis found Mangakahia for a 3 to get the Orange on the board. WFU’s tallest player, 6-foot-4 Maya Banks, dominated SU’s defense. She scored seven points in the third quarter alone, leading her team to its best period of the game and cutting its lead to just seven entering the fourth.“It’s different watching on film, you actually don’t know how big they are until you look down in warmups,” Mangakahia said. “I think their size helped them a lot, especially their defense on our posts, they were doing well on defense.”It took until the fourth quarter for Syracuse to make a significant adjustment. After a Digna Strautmane 3-pointer increased the Orange’s lead to 12 with 8:23 to go, Hillsman called a timeout. In the huddle, he discussed a better way to defend the Demon Deacons’ offense. Syracuse incorporated more match-up elements to its 2-3 zone for a solidified rebounding effort. Hillsman also made sure his team took away Wake Forest’s offense at the high post, where it had been having success. The switch forced the Demon Deacons to make a game-low four field goals in the frame. SU changed its game plan on offense as well. By the fourth, the Orange had made 11 3-pointers, prompting Wake Forest to be more aggressive in guarding the perimeter. In turn, Syracuse finally had success inside. Pump fakes drew block attempts and allowed for drives to the rim. Double teams led to open cutters to the basket. After scoring 14 points in the paint in the first three quarters, SU scored 14 in the fourth alone.Following the game, Hillsman said his team was playing solid, but not great. It still has rebounding and defensive issues. On Sunday, against a Demon Deacons team that came into the game 1-10 in the ACC, “solid” was enough to win. With a matchup against No. 6 Notre Dame next Monday and postseason play looming, solid won’t be good enough. “I think we don’t realize the amount of size we have sometimes,” forward Emily Engstler said. “It’s not the same team as last year. Yeah, (size) had a factor in the game, it always will, but at the end of the day, I think we can matchup just as they can matchup us.” Published on February 17, 2019 at 3:53 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34 Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more