Sunday, November 27, 2011

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani -- Preseason NIT Finals

by Ray Floriani

NEW YORK CITY -- The shot chart the last eight minutes of the game showed Syracuse with nine field goals, Kris Joseph hitting five of them. The senior forward was instrumental in the Syracuse's 69-63 victory over Stanford in the Pre-Season NIT championship at Madison Square Garden.

The court at Madison Square Garden

The scores:

Consolation Game...
Virginia Tech59 57Oklahoma State

Championship Game...
Syracuse69 63Stanford

The possessions and efficiency:


Beside Joseph, the victory was predicated on good old full court pressure defense. The Cardinal had an eight point lead with under seven minutes to go and appeared to be in control. Syracuse then went into the press that forced turnovers, created quick scores and accelerated the pace. As Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim pointed out, Stanford was doing a great job controlling the clock with possessions in the 30-35 second range. Down eight that late , it would have been very difficult to come back if the possessions continued at that pace.

Joseph had a game high 18 points, earning Most Outstanding Player honors. Those five field goals in the latter eight minutes came from varying areas. There was a three pointer, two mid range jumpers and two closely defended penetrations in the paint.

MVP Kris Joseph of Syracuse

Syracuse did have an eFg percentage of 51%. Regardless, Boeheim feels his offense or improvement of it, is priority one. The Orange were guilty of 21 turnovers, an extremely high 29% TO rate. The Cardinal struggled even greater in that area with 24 turnovers and an astounding 35% TO mark.

Johnny Dawkins' Pac 12 representatives did pound the boards with a 50% offensive rebounding percentage. Syracuse was close behind with 47% led by Fab Melo with 5 offensive boards, and the versatile Joseph adding four.

Syracuse -- specifically Jim Boeheim -- fans

Stanford's Josh Owens a 14 points per game scorer, struggled with a 4 point (2 of 7 shooting) performance in 31 minutes.

A satisfying tournament for Syracuse. Not only due to taking home the championship but facing two good teams, Virginia Tech in the semis and Stanford in the final. In the latter contest, how Syracuse pulled it out was very gratifying. Now, it's back to the offensive 'drawing board'.

Coaches Johnny Dawkins and Jim Boeheim post game

The consolation gave us a hard fought one possession contest.

The pace and efficiency:

Oklahoma State56102
Virginia Tech6197

Two major keys here. Travis Ford's teams like to get out and push the pace. Virginia Tech favors a half court environment and Seth Greenberg's group dictated tempo. Oklahoma State entered the game averaging 72 possessions and were held to 16 less than their norm. On the afternoon, Oklahoma state was limited to two fast break points.

Other big factor was the offensive glass. Virginia Tech started slow looking at an 8-0 deficit after the first four minutes. The Hokies continued to work inside and gradually wore down the Cowboys. Virginia Tech had a 48-37% advantage in offensive rebounding percentage. Dorian Finney-Smith, a 6-8 forward, did appreciable damage for tech with 8 offensive rebounds.

Tech, interestingly, only shot 35% eFG percentage. Given their rebounding edge and a tidy 18% TO rate, it's not a huge surprise they were able to pull this contest out and exit MSG with that well earned split.

The Honors (with their final game Manley efficiency):

MOPKris Joseph, Syracuse22
All Tournament Team:Dion Waiters, Syracuse10
C. J. Fair, Syracuse12
Aaron Bright, Stanford13
Erick Green, Virginia Tech11

Markel Brown of Oklahoma State was not selected to the All-Tournament team but did lead the consolation game scorers with 19 points. His Manley efficiency checked in at an impressive 23 (largely due to the sophomore guard's 10 rebounds).

'Stat Stuffer' Melo
Fab Melo, Syracuse's sophomore center drew praise for his play in the final. The seven-footer played 32 minutes and scored 6 points (3 of 6 shooting) with 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals. His final Manley efficiency, a very commendable 16. Second on the Orange in the championship game.

Street view from the pressroom,
New York on Black Friday

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