Syracuse’s new depth is a ‘good problem’ in early season winning-streak

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Quentin Hillsman predicted the blowout loss before it happened. It was November 2016, and Syracuse was in the third-game of a three-day tournament against DePaul. Gabrielle Cooper slogged to the court. A freshman at the time, she noticed her teammates fatigue during pregame warmups. The ensuing 108-84 rout was a formality.Last week, in the Cancun Challenge, SU again prepped for then-No. 16 DePaul to end a three-day tournament. It played two games in the two days prior, yet Cooper identified the team’s upbeat energy. Syracuse’s depth had factored into another early-season contest. Despite wasting a 15-point lead and needing a Tiana Mangakahia buzzer-beater in overtime, the Orange prevailed.“You had those games the last two years where you know that third game was going to be difficult,” Hillsman said. “I felt in the third game this year … we came out on the right end.”No. 12 Syracuse’s (6-1) five-game winning streak, which includes two wins against ranked opponents, is a byproduct of the depth it’s yearned for in years past. Hillsman specifically tabbed the lack of depth as the reason why SU fell short in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season. Through seven games, Hillsman has experimented with different lineups to mesh the newcomers into the program. Ten players have registered double-digit minutes and a bucket per matchup, four of which are first-year players.The influx has resulted in better defensive pressure and more transition opportunities.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLaura Angle | Digital Design EditorHe’s turned away from mass substitutions and has tried to match-play styles, Hillsman said. SU’s forward-heavy lineup that utilized its length, mainly by inserting 6-foot-2 guard Kadiatou Sissoko at the top of the defensive press. Different types of lineups will be commonplace, Hillsman said.SU will look to enforce its strength in numbers on Thursday against No. 20 Minnesota (5-0), which has nine players averaging more than 10 minutes per game. Syracuse’s depth has allowed Hillsman to enact the ideal version of his team.“It allows us to play faster,” Hillsman said. “I don’t think in any way has it changed the way we play except make us better. We’re all excited about getting more players in and concentrate on what we do and do it harder, do it faster and do it better.”Factoring in new pieces has been easier this season, Hillsman said, because the Orange returned all five of its starters from a year ago. In the preseason, sessions splintered into “review and install.” Mangakahia led the first-team unit in the offense she spent a year mastering. Then the second unit walked on the floor and Hillsman had to teach schemes.The talent disparity between the Orange’s bench and it’s opponent’s has materialized in the team’s bench points. Syracuse averages 31.7 bench points per game, often doubling its opponents point total. SU has won the battle between subs in all but one of its contests.Cooper saw this first-hand on Nov. 24 as the Orange toppled the Blue Demons. Redshirt sophomore Kiara Lewis checked in in the third quarter of a two-possession game. After an immediate Miranda Drummond steal, Lewis sprinted up the floor and eased in a layup, pushing the lead to seven in an eventual overtime win.“It’s a good problem to have,” Hillsman said. “That means you’re talented.” Comments Published on November 28, 2018 at 11:46 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarezlast_img read more

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