I’m by no means a fan of Syracuse, and I can’t for the life of me believe that Boeheim still has a job, but what he did in the last 10 minutes of the game yesterday is to be commended, especially when compared to that dunderhead Bo Ryan.
Syracuse’s zone defense is notorious. For much of the time last night, the zone was packed in to take away the inside game. Wisconsin reacted by keeping the ball outside the perimeter of the Syracuse zone, running essentially a triangle offense with the post player at the elbow (or higher). The result was good for Wisconsin because they got open looks from beyond the three-point arc and they made most of them. After a particularly brisk run that saw the Badgers take the lead, Boeheim called a time out. From that point on, the Syracuse zone was expanded to include the three point arc. It was stifling and Wisconsin had no answer. They had no clue as to how to penetrate the zone. They played the last five or more minutes with the ball 25 feet away from the basket. Several times Wisconsin ended up having to launch 25+ footers as the shot clock ran out.
Despite all of this, they remained in the game.
Wisconsin got the break of all breaks when they had the ball with ten or so seconds left and only trailing by one. They had a timeout. They still have that timeout.
Instead of calling the timeout and setting up one play for the win, Wisconsin senior Jordan Taylor ended up with the ball, once again 25 feet from the basket, and heaving up a prayer after making no effort to get the ball into someone who could shoot a closer shot. Game over.
It was obvious he had no plan to attack the Syracuse zone, even though he had nearly a week to work one up. You know what I think? I think Bo Ryan didn’t call a timeout because he didn’t know what to do.