first_imgBuddy 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: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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