Buddy Boeheim dribbled a ball in his left hand with a sophomore season goal on his mind. He stood on a court in the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center, a few feet away from the weight rooms.The 6-foot-6 sophomore’s skillset had centered around his 3-point shooting. But in his follow-up campaign, he’s trying to become a threat inside the arc. The ‘Melo Center became a cradle for his development. Buddy constantly met with Orange assistant head coach Gerry McNamara throughout the offseason and upped his weight training.“Trying to make plays off the dribble, that was really my main focus this summer,” Buddy said. “Just improve every day so I can do more than just shoot this year.”The result? Buddy’s attempted more 2-pointers (72) in 11 conference games than he did in his entire freshman season (56). While partially expected with a minutes increase, the statistical leap is indicative of a new play style working. Buddy’s added the dribble-drive to his arsenal, supplementing his main threat. He’s shot 43% from inside the arc and has helped lift Syracuse (13-9, 6-5 Atlantic Coast) to 16th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric.Buddy’s 3-point shooting sparks crowds and creates nicknames. Buddy Bullseye. His 38 ACC 3s have raised his points per game to 16.3. Yet it’s his driving that’s diversified his attack, forcing defenders to choose between defending the deep ball or a turnaround jumper from the paint.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter SU’s loss to Duke on Feb. 1, Buddy said defenders were pressing out and sticking to Orange shooters. Teams were testing Syracuse, and therefore Buddy, to beat them inside.“We gotta start getting easier looks,” Buddy said. “Teams are adjusting.”Corey Henry | Photo EditorFor one hour a day over the summer, Buddy and McNamara prepared for teams’ eventual adjustment. Buddy entered the offseason aiming to improve his athleticism. Guided by weight trainer Ryan Cabiles, Buddy established the tendencies to charge and finish around the rim that’d carry him throughout the nonconference slate.Against smaller teams like Seattle and Bucknell, Buddy focused on his body movement around screens. He took advantage of angles, leveraging his frame to create looks at the rim over defenders. Former Orange coach and Buddy’s friend Eric Devendorf said the sophomore had used his height advantage to shoot over defenders his whole career. It dominated his early approach. In 2019-20, he’s incorporated the same principle to the interior.Like most SU players this season, Buddy’s nonconference growth was stunted in late-Nov. Barclays Center games against Oklahoma State and Penn State. He went 7-for-27 overall, 3-for-12 from two.On one play against OSU, the Cowboys baited Buddy into driving and feeding Elijah Hughes in the corner. An Oklahoma State guard dropped low and picked off the pass. A few possessions later, Buddy drove into space and bounced-passed to Bourama Sidibe. In a similar situation later in the game, Buddy converted from the free-throw line. Postgame, he acknowledged it’d been a learning process.Everybody’s gonna overplay (Buddy). He’s a shooter. He’s getting his own shot, though. He’s putting it on the floor. He’s learning. -Jim Boeheim after the Syracuse-Duke gameAgainst Boston College on Jan. 15, Buddy converted back-to-back layups to give SU an 11-point cushion. He’s more aggressive early in the game, he’s said, as defenses settle. In Buddy’s personal gameplan, he hopes that paint scoring can spark more.“Just trying to get my inside game going and moving out as the game goes on,” Buddy said after scoring 21 against Pitt on Jan. 25.SU’s run a screen for their top three scorers — Buddy, Joe Girard III or Hughes — throughout the season as a main offensive scheme. Usually, though, Girard is at the point, Hughes the wing, leaving Buddy as the rover and trigger. When Buddy takes a down-screen from a forward to get the ball on the elbow, the extra space can turn into room for a jumper or a step to drive by.McNamara said earlier this season that “three playmaking guards on the court at the same time” is key to the offense’s success. Virginia head coach Tony Bennett echoed the sentiment months later. With Buddy usually matched on the second- or third-best defender, he offers variety.There have been times where it’s carried him this season. At Notre Dame on Jan. 22, Buddy dropped in four two-pointers in the second half in an eventual two-point win. He went 0-for-5 from 3.If Syracuse is to end its current two-game skid and gather enough wins to stay alive in a weak ACC, Buddy’s dribble-drive can continue to help the offense mask other issues.“Everybody’s gonna overplay (Buddy),” Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said post-Duke. “He’s a shooter. He’s getting his own shot, though. He’s putting it on the floor. He’s learning.” Comments Published on February 4, 2020 at 11:06 pm Contact Nick: firstname.lastname@example.org | @nick_a_alvarez Facebook Twitter Google+
If college basketball season contracts because of COVID, one-time NCAA Tournament expansion might be needed
If they follow even the most promising path that seems available to their college football brethren at this point, it is quite possible that the men of NCAA basketball could be missing out this season on the Gavitt Games, the Maui Invitational, the Battle 4 Atlantis and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.It is those events and so many other non-conference games that annually establish which high-major conferences are most powerful in a given season and which mid-major teams are punching above their weight class and thus which might belong in the NCAA Tournament if they succeed in league play. All of this would remove much of the drama from the regular season. That’s the second-best outcome from not the NCAA not making the move a decade ago. But in a truncated regular season with few methods beyond the eye test to evaluate teams from different conferences, it might be the fairest approach.“If we’re not going to have a full non-conference season given the circumstances of the virus, it would be really fun to expand the tournament for a year on the back end, so we could make up for the loss of some tremendous games in November and December,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla told Sporting News. “I would hope it’s a one-time deal. But I think there are going to be two or three teams in the Atlantic 10 that wouldn’t have a chance at the sort of non-conference success Dayton did last season. If it means Davidson or Rhode Island gets in, I think it’s great. Because those are the type of teams that win games in November and December that look good on the resume in March.”The best idea is a complete regular season that begins with the Champions Classic and ends at Lucas Oil Stadium with the two surviving teams from a 68-team NCAA Tournament. We did not get to see that reach fruition in the 2019-20 season, and we may be prevented from seeing the 2020-21 season launch as planned. If that is to be the case, a temporary expansion may be the only just option. If all of that goes away for the 2020-21 season and only league games are contested for the sake of time or safety or both, Tulsa coach Frank Haith suggested to Sporting News that consideration should be given to expanding the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams — just this once — because of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on intercollegiate athletics.MORE: NCAA selection committee would face huge challenge with league-only scheduleAs someone who expressed vehement opposition to such an expansion when it was considered in 2010 as part of the negotiation for a new March Madness television contract — I called it a “horrible idea” and potential “disaster” — I’d agree that this would be a reasonable approach to assure deserving teams are not excluded.So long as there was some sort of contract, signed in blood, guaranteeing it would be a one-time exemption.The Big Ten and Pac-12 already have declared that they will contest only conference games in football this autumn. The SEC, Big 12 and ACC have delayed announcements on the matter but quite likely will make the same decision. And there is fear that they might not have a season at all.NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told SN that he is hopeful men’s basketball will be able to start the season on time, Nov. 10. But he acknowledged that if the non-conference season were to be eliminated, the NCAA has been told by Google, which helped develop the NET metric now at the core of the selection process, the integrity of the ratings could be compromised.“That kind of cross-pollination is vital to the accuracy of the NET,” Gavitt said.A larger field would reduce the pressure on the selection committee to decide among teams whose records are abbreviated and parochial.The NCAA flirted with a 96-team tournament in 2010 because members had come to depend on its lucrative television contract with CBS, and that deal was soon to expire. CBS did not wish to write a check that was in the neighborhood of $700 million annually; a source close to the negotiation told SN that ESPN was willing to meet or exceed that price, but only if there was a corresponding expansion of inventory. In TV speak, that means more games.I used the word “folly” to describe it at that year’s Final Four.It was Turner’s willingness to do a partnership deal with CBS that preserved the core of the tournament at 64 teams, with a gentle expansion of the opening round to the “First Four” concept that increased the field to 68.That has led us to such magical moments over the past decade as No. 15 seed Lehigh beating Duke in 2012, Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown in 2013 and, most remarkable of all, 16 seed UMBC’s upset of No. 1 Virginia in 2018.A 96-team tournament likely would remove the possibility of such games occurring in 2021, depending on how it is structured.The field could be seeded 1-96, with those ranked 33-96 playing against one another for the opportunity to be a part of the remaining 64. In a 96-team bracket with four regions, the teams seeded 9 would play those seeded 24, No. 10 would play No. 23, and so on. The winner of the 9 vs. 24 game would play the No. 8 seed in the round of 64, the 10-23 winner would play the No. 7 seed, etc.All 32 automatic qualifiers could be seeded into a 64-team field as they normally would. Those that ordinarily would be 15 seeds — say, 2019 Colgate — would be 15 seeds. The 13 seeds would be 13 seeds. Then all the at-large selections could play for the opportunity to enter that bracket and be seeded according to their regular-season accomplishment. A team like 2019 Michigan would be seeded No. 2 in its region so long as it survived an opening-round game.