No. 4 Syracuse’s dominance in individual battles adds to potent offense

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Relation to SU Current StudentEmployee of SUAlumniParent of Current/Former StudentLocal CNY ResidentOther Sign up for The Daily Orange Newsletter Email Address * “If we know our matchups, we can take our matchups and get a goal out of it,” Meaghan Tyrrell said.Instinct stems from lacrosse IQ, Gait said. Syracuse does one-on-one drills regularly, and through that they’ve learned to observe things like the defender’s body positioning.Depending on whether the defender’s hips are open or square, Syracuse’s attacks can select the best one-on-one move for that scenario. Tyrrell utilizes split, roll and topside dodges, she said, but it’s all about each player’s preference.“Whatever they practice the most, that’s how they get in,” Swart said.Midway through the first half against Colgate, Rahal intercepted a pass at Syracuse’s 30-yard line. Immediately, she felt a Raiders defender contesting the ball, but she rotated away and sprinted from the pressure. Rahal’s individual skill sparked a counterattack where the Orange scored through Tyrrell.The spin is Rahal’s signature move in one-on-one situations. She didn’t even know she utilized the move so frequently until her teammates told her. When the defense is forcing her one way, her body naturally tells her to spin the other way, she said.“Mary (Rahal) is a spin-move queen,” Swart said.The Orange’s one-on-one play sets up for the offense to run as an entire unit. Leading-scorer Emily Hawryschuk tends to draw the best defender, Carney said, leaving one-on-one opportunities for her, Tyrrell, Swart and others.Playing against a lot of teams that like to play man-to-man defense helps that one-on-one game as well, Gait said. Because the team capitalizes on one-on-one opportunities, that opens up things like the extra pass, Swart said.“The individual talent,” Gait said, “It just builds into the team talent.” Comments Published on March 10, 2020 at 11:04 pm Contact Roshan: rferna04@syr.edu | @Roshan_f16 From the left edge of the 8-meter arc, Megan Carney stutter-stepped and swung her stick side-to-side. She squared her hips with Northwestern’s Liza Elder and spun counterclockwise. Then, the Orange attack sprinted toward the top of the arc and cut back.Elder was caught. Yards behind the play, she could only watch as Carney scored with ease.Carney’s individual effort gave the Orange a 3-2 lead midway through the first half against the then-No. 6 Wildcats on Feb. 22. This season, SU’s offense has been largely characterized by individual talent — moments like Carney’s goal. Through eight games, No. 4 Syracuse (7-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) has scored 137 times, 70 of which have been unassisted. The structure of SU’s offense lends to a lot of flips and small passes that don’t statistically count as assists, head coach Gary Gait said. Regardless, those unassisted goals still emphasize an element of the Orange’s offense — an innate ability to overpower opponents by winning one-on-one matchups.“Our offense is very unique,” Gait said. “We freelance a little bit and make decisions and let our players decide when they get a step on the (opponent).”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEmily Steinberger | Design EditorA few weeks before Carney’s goal, Gait brought in an outside company called Shake School to help the Orange improve their dodging and footwork. It’s very difficult to teach players how to do a “shoulder shimmy” or a deceptive move, Gait said, but Shake School created drills to help his players improve their one-on-one skills. Against Northwestern, Carney put those skills to work.“Being able to turn around and go the other way quickly,” Carney said. “(It) just gets the defender shaken up.”The ability to “shake n’ bake” a defender stems back to film review, Carney said. Before game day, when Syracuse scouts opposing teams, they keep an eye on potential mismatches. Typically, they have two film sessions before practice that last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.“Players watch to identify the quality and the level of the defender they’re going to be potentially up against,” Gait said. “It’s really about being prepared.”Even if it’s not a mismatch, knowing about the defender gives an attack assurance, Carney said. That decision of whether or not to challenge a defender one-on-one, and what move to do, is one based on instinct, junior Sam Swart and redshirt senior Mary Rahal said. It’s made in the moment, Rahal said, and it’s about finding a balance between when to be unselfish and when to be selfish. * * indicates requiredlast_img read more

Wofford’s Mike Young is Sporting News Coach of the Year for 2018-19

first_imgMORE: Sporting News’ 2018-19 All-AmericansCameron Jackson’s home is in Winchester, Va., which meant Young had to drive across I-85 toward Charlotte, turning north on I-77 for a short spell before exiting onto I-81. It carried him across nearly the entire state, to the outskirts of a 275-year-old city that was the site of battles in the Civil War and the American revolution.Young was ready to fight for Jackson, if necessary.“He’s as big as a house, and he can score on anybody,” Young told Sporting News. Jackson had been injured as a sophomore and received a medical hardship waiver, which meant he eventually would graduate from Wofford with eligibility remaining. “With this ridiculous grad transfer rule, I sat down with him and said, ‘You’re going to have a lot of opportunities. …’“And I’m going down that line for about three or five minutes and he stops me and he said, ‘Did you drive all the way up here to talk to me about this?’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah. I mean, you’re pretty important to me.’ And he said, ‘Coach, there is no way in the world that I would ever consider leaving.’ And he never wavered.”Mike Young didn’t become the 2018-19 Sporting Coach of the Year that day. He earned the award during all the years he developed this program to which Jackson was attracted; all the days during which Jackson and his teammates were formed into one of this season’s most mature and connected teams; and all the games the Terriers dominated since opening with a narrow loss to eventual ACC regular-season champion North Carolina.Young grew up in Radford, Va., played in Division III at Emory and Henry College and began his coaching career as an assistant there. He has been at Wofford for 30 years, the first 13 as an assistant, the rest as the man in charge. After spending most of the 2000s getting the program established, he built a program in which his veteran teams were league-championship quality and have never lost a conference tournament game in three tries as a No. 1 seed.He’s never had a team like this, however.“So many teams at our level might have really good perimeter players, might have a really good stretch-4,” Young said. “But with this one, there’s a bunch of guys that can really shoot it and they’re tough and experienced and didn’t have to rely on a freshman. But this team has a post player that can play anywhere in the country. I am convinced he can play anywhere in the country. And we can do so many things that give people such heartburn.”Young praises Jackson’s ability to handle the ball, to execute a dribble handoff or keep it and hit an open cutter. He compares that to some of Bob McKillop’s best teams at Davidson, so difficult to defend “because of their post player’s ability to do the same things.”Young’s team went 29-4 overall and 18-0 in a Southern Conference that featured, by the standards of the NCAA, four of the top 75 teams in Division I. “I firmly believe this is the best Southern Conference basketball league I’ve been a part of,” Young said, which makes the Terriers’ dominance all the more amazing.They went 11-3 on the road; only three of the nation’s other 352 teams compiled more victories as visitors. They climbed to 14th in the NCAA’s NET rankings, surrounded on that list by major conference powers such as Purdue, Auburn, Kansas and Florida State. And though they were all but assured of being invited to compete in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what occurred in the Southern Conference championship, they eliminated any Selection Sunday suspense by winning another three games their and claiming the league’s automatic bid.MORE: Wofford vs. UNC: Behind the scenes The NET formula is a departure from the old Ratings Percentage Index by which the NCAA used to measure Division I teams, and it has been a bonanza for Wofford, all but demanding those who follow college basketball take the Terriers and the SoCon more seriously.“I didn’t pay any attention to it when the switch was made,” Young said. “I remember reading about it, but I didn’t give it a second thought. But then you start, you’re into it and somebody says, ‘Hey, you’re number 41 in the NET.’ What the hell is the NET? I don’t know KenPom. All that stuff is so over my head. My staff keeps up with it.“I think it’s going to be very interesting to see how they evaluate that and how that stuff is taken into account next Sunday.”This will be Young’s fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament as Wofford head coach. The Terriers also made it in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015. This will almost certainly be the first time they walked onto the court wearing their home uniforms, signifying Wofford is the higher seed. And it will be the first game for Young as Sporting News’ reigning national coach of the year.“I don’t think any of us as coaches allow ourselves to think, ‘Wow, we’re pretty good, better than I thought we were going to be,’” Young said. “Greensboro was picked to win our league, and we went to Greensboro and I told our beat writer I thought this was kind of a litmus test, let’s see where we are. Greensboro is defending champion, really good, played Kentucky tooth-and-nail. LSU, 6-point game, led a lot of that game. And we went up there and beat them by 30. And we drove then to Roanoke for a game against VMI. And I thought to myself, privately: ‘Daggone, we’re pretty good.’“We’re defending and, I don’t want to use the word ‘elite’ offensively, but I’ll tell you what: We can score. Holy cow. We can score the ball.”MORE: Q&A with Wofford’s Fletcher MageeThe Terriers average 83 points, which ranks 12th in Division I. They are fifth in 3-pointers made and second in 3-point percentage. Senior Fletcher Magee, a 6-5 guard who twists oddly into his jumpshot — as if the catch, turn and release were all one motion — averaged 20.5 points and is just a few made 3s away from setting the NCAA career record for 3-point goals.Junior Nathan Hoover, another guard shooting well above 40 percent from long range, was the hero of the SoCon title game, with 20 second-half points to help the Terriers overcome a small halftime deficit and pull away from UNCG to a 70-58 victory.Jackson provides the force on the inside — averaging 14.6 points and 7.5 rebounds — that draws defenders away and helps to free Magee, Hoover and sophomore point guard Storm Murphy for open 3s. Sophomore Keve Aluma provides a defensive and rebounding presence at 6-9, 230 pounds. Senior Matthew Pegram, 6-11, assures there’s another big man available when Aluma and Jackson need a break or encounter foul trouble.“You’re talking about high-character people,” Young said. “We lose 4,500 points with these three seniors. It’s just college athletics the way it was designed to be. Great people, great students, great citizens on our campus.“Greensboro was better than we were last year, but we had three shots in the last 10 seconds to beat them in the semifinals and move on. And the tears and the pain and the agony of that loss, to see how that kind of set our jaw to have a great spring and summer and the determination and incredible amount of toughness to get to this point, it’s been very rewarding.” It was about 18 months ago that Mike Young hopped in his car in Spartanburg, S.C., and headed out on a recruiting trip he believed would be essential toward success in a season that would turn out to be the greatest in his time at Wofford College.That it required a seven-hour drive was not what made it unusual. The curious thing is, he was pursuing a player who’d been with the Terriers for three years, started 35 games in his career and averaged more than a dozen points per game in his most recent season. And now Mike Young has been “awarded” for his efforts, as the advertising people like to say. Young joins last year’s choice, Mick Cronin of Cincinnati, and such recent winners as Mark Few of Gonzaga, John Calipari of Kentucky and Bill Self of Kansas.Winning has been a habit lately for Young. Wofford has not lost a game since Dec. 19. To understand how difficult it was to win 21 SoCon games without a loss, understand that East Tennessee State, Furman and UNCG each won at least 24 games overall, went 38-2 against the rest of the league — and 0-7 against Wofford.“To think we went on the road all three of those places and won, that just doesn’t happen,” Young said. “That’s really, really hard. To do it undefeated in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big South, the Southern Conference, that’s storybook stuff. You don’t even dream of stuff like that.”last_img read more