Syracuse zone proves unbeatable again as Marquette suffers miserable shooting night in Elite Eight

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ WASHINGTON – Marquette passed the ball around the outside of Syracuse’s zone, desperately trying to find an opening to break through the middle. With each opening, one of the Orange’s long arms quickly closed it. With each open space on the arc, one of Syracuse’s quick-moving defenders hustled to fill it. The Golden Eagles had nothing to work with.“Obviously, today, they were clicking really well,” Marquette guard Junior Cadougan said. “They did a great job from start to finish.”And from start to finish, the Golden Eagles looked bewildered and befuddled. The fact that they beat Syracuse’s zone once this season had no bearing on this game with the way the Orange was playing. Marquette shot only 22.6 percent from the field and a pathetic 12.5 percent from the arc in its 55-39 loss to Syracuse in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament at the Verizon Center.The Golden Eagles also committed 14 turnovers, which led to 19 points for the Orange.Syracuse’s zone has swallowed up four teams so far in the NCAA Tournament, with Marquette being the latest. At the top of the zone, 6-foot-4 Brandon Triche and 6-foot-6 Michael Carter-Williams made life miserable for the Golden Eagles’ shooters.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMarquette took 24 3-pointers, but drained only three of them.“We’re sticking together and we’re not breaking down,” Carter-Williams said. “We have active hands and we’re getting deflections and steals and the zone has been great and we’re just playing real hard. We’ve just got to keep focusing on every play.”That meant stealing the ball at every opportunity. Syracuse finished with 10 of them Saturday. Early in the game, Cadougan worked his way into the paint but quickly lost control of the ball as the Orange’s zone collapsed on him. SU forward Jerami Grant, a lanky 6-foot-8 body ideal for coach Jim Boeheim’s defense, dove on the loose ball and secured the steal.It set up a transition layup for Triche to make the score 18-7 Syracuse.Every time the Golden Eagles tried to shoot, there was a Syracuse body in their way. At one point in the first half, Marquette forward Jamil Wilson had a brief opportunity to take a 3, but couldn’t get the shot off before Orange guard Trevor Cooney raced to the top of the key to get in his way.Syracuse center Baye Moussa Keita said the Orange has been more talkative at the defensive end of the floor. Keita, a junior center who’s helped key the Orange’s postseason defensive dominance, stood at the middle of the zone shouting directions.“I think the difference was that we were talking a lot,” Keita said. “The zone, when you’re talking, it’s just a whole different defense when you’re talking, communicating.”In the locker room after the game, Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins said it isn’t just that opposing teams are missing shots, it’s that the Orange is forcing them to miss shots. Syracuse is making sure shooters who need time to shoot don’t have any. The Orange is forcing shooters into spots on the floor where they’re too deep to hit 3s.Syracuse’s zone has taken center stage at the NCAA Tournament. Teams like No. 1-seed Indiana, the third best scoring team in the nation, couldn’t beat it. Marquette, led by Buzz Williams, who’s seen the zone, broken down the zone and beat the zone, had no answer for the zone on Saturday.Hopkins said it’s just a zone defense, but it’s a zone defense that’s exceptionally long and exceptionally fast. It has players who can instinctually break across the arc to close out on shooters in an eye-blink. Hopkins compared it to a baseball player hitting a 100-mph fastball. Few can do it effectively.But the few who can all seem to play for Syracuse. It makes Boeheim’s version of the zone almost unbeatable.“Coach is – he’s revolutionized it,” Hopkins said. “He’s changed the rotations. He sees it differently. It’s not normal.”Carter-Williams said every player has bought into the zone and now focuses on every single play an opposing offense might throw at them. Teams usually drain the shot clock trying to look for good shots, but Syracuse stays active for that entire period.Marquette took 53 shots on Saturday, but hit a measly 12 of them.“We put our hearts into it, and we’re competing on every single possession, every play,” Carter-Williams said. “I think that’s why we’re so effective.” Comments Related Stories UN-FOUR-GETTABLE: Syracuse returns to Final Four for first time in 10 years with 55-39 victory over MarquetteCarter-Williams propels Syracuse past Marquette, into Final Four with all-around performanceGallery: Syracuse defeats Marquette to advance to Final Four in AtlantaFans at Chuck’s go wild; Seniors reflect on Orange’s advance to the Final FourFans gather at Varsity Pizza to watch Syracuse wincenter_img Published on March 30, 2013 at 11:44 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_isemanlast_img

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