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Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament hopes end with 90-66 loss to Louisville

first_img Published on February 19, 2020 at 9:15 pm Contact Nick: nialvare@syr.edu | @nick_a_alvarez LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In their lockers, Syracuse players talked in a low murmur. Some pulled their hoods over their heads. For months they had played like a team trying to put it all together. Then they tried again for 40 more minutes. But in that second half, the SU press failed, the bench emptied and the score ballooned. Louisville forced the Orange to reconcile their long-term hopes with a daunting reality. “I wish we were better,” Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I wish we were doing something wrong that we can correct. But we’re just not quite good enough.” Clinging to a postseason dream, Syracuse (14-12, 7-8 Atlantic Coast) was steamrolled by No. 11 Louisville (22-5, 13-3), 90-66, on Wednesday night. Keeping in line with seasons norms, SU made it competitive in the first half. They cut into multiple double-digit leads and strung together enough defensive stops to make nervous the Cardinals fans encircling the court. But offensive turnovers and leaky high-post defense quashed another SU upset bid. Louisville totaled more points in the paint (30 to 24), rebounds (45 to 36) and assists (23 to 11) than the Orange. The Cardinals benefited from tactical (inserting 3-point shooter Ryan McMahon into the starting lineup) and schematic changes (continuously running a high-low game in the paint). The Cardinals thrilled from 3 and rode a tension-less final 20 minutes to end its own two-game slide. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“The disappointment was our defensive breakdown in the second half.” Boeheim said. “We just didn’t have it tonight. “Cardinals’ shooters quickly found the 3-point stroke they’d lost in past games. After going a combined 9-for-51 in two losses, they converted 10 against the Orange. McMahon hit four 3s in the first half, each pushing Louisville further ahead. They mainly fed Jordan Nwora and Dwayne Sutton in the 2-3 zone’s soft spot. They were met with little resistance, whipping the ball across the arc or baseline for a dump-off. Sutton, who finished with three 3s, had converted less than one deep ball per contest. After Sutton rose and cashed Louisville’s first of the game, Buddy Boeheim was shocked, the latter said. The Orange thought he was only a high-post threat. It created more offense. After repeated possessions looking for a 3, the Cardinals went over the zone to Malik Williams. When SU defenders fanned out to shooters and denied backdoor cuts, Nwora rose for mid-range jumpers. Nwora scored a team-high 17 points after he managed seven total points over the last two games.Meanwhile, Syracuse developed a turnover problem against one of the worst turnover-producing teams in the country. Joseph Girard III threw two passes away early, and rotational guard Howard Washington checked in much earlier than usual. Hughes pressed, too, as he twice overshot Marek Dolezaj for what would’ve been layups. Buddy said SU took too many quick shots against Louisville’s press. “Especially when they were pressuring,” Boeheim said, “We couldn’t get by and make the play.” Courtesy of Dennis Nett | Syracuse.comFollowing the second turnover, Hughes bent at the waist and slouched before getting back on defense.SU converted five 3s in the first half but just two in the second. Cardinals defenders started doubling Buddy when he received the ball, he said, and triggered dump-off passes. Hughes and Girard couldn’t find the mark either (3-for-12 from 3). “I feel like we should be more ahead,” one Louisville fan in a black sweater told another when the halftime buzzer sounded, the Cardinals ahead by seven. They’d be appeased.Louisville’s offensive game plan didn’t appear to change. It just grew more potent. Syracuse’s offensive spurts paled whenever the defense couldn’t get the ensuing stop. The Cardinals kept it simple: pass to an open white jersey in the paint or around the arc. They went on a 14-2 run over a 2:18 stretch in the second half with dunks, 3-pointers and free throws. They led by 17. Then 19. Louisville ran the same high-low screen game in the paint, and SU didn’t have an answer. Sidibe and Dolezaj fouled out midway through the second half. Freshman Jesse Edwards didn’t fare much better. The 3s and dunks poured in and red-clad fans quickly trekked to the exits. As one walked out they said to no one particular, “We could get 1,000 (points) under the basket.” “It was a couple things (that went wrong),” Hughes said. “… In the second half we let them get dunk after dunk after dunk. We got to hold that down there. We have to stick to our principles.” SU now has a 1-4 record against ranked opponents with none others scheduled. It can finish the regular season with, at most, 19 wins — a number historically unsatisfactory for a berth. And now it’s facing its second three-game losing streak of the campaign. With the loss, the Orange’s season-long quest to the NCAA Tournament likely concluded Wednesday night. Not with a bang, but with a whimper on national television. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Rough NLCS opener lands Yasmani Grandal on Dodgers’ bench for Game 2

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco Away from the podium in the interview room at Miller Park, however, Roberts acknowledged Grandal’s defensive struggles were at least partially the reason he gave Barnes his first start since Sept. 23.“Maybe a little bit,” Roberts said. “I think there were a couple points in the game where it sped up on him a little bit. He’s started every playoff game up to this point. But to have this battery with Austin, I really feel good about. And to have him (Grandal) sit for a half a game and potentially be ready to hit, I feel good about that.”The Dodgers continually refer to Grandal as an “elite” defensive catcher, based largely on his pitch-framing abilities which annually rank among the best in baseball. But he also had 19 passed balls over the past two seasons (including a major-league high 10 in 2016). He also committed seven errors during the regular season and ranked 21st with a 0.6 defensive WAR by one measure (Willson Contreras led all catchers at 1.7).There seems to be a disconnect between Grandal’s ability to receive the ball and steal strikes – Roberts insists he has “very good hands” – and his high passed-ball total as well as the misplays receiving the ball on throws at the plate (one of Friday’s errors).“I think that’s fair,” Roberts said to the criticism. “I don’t have an explanation for the drops or the passed balls. I know that he works his tail off and cares as much as anybody. I wish I had an answer but we don’t.” MILWAUKEE — Initially, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts tried to make it sound like the two were unrelated.Yasmani Grandal had one of the worst defensive games by a catcher in postseason history during Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Friday. He is the first catcher to have two passed balls and two errors in the same postseason game.And he was not in the starting lineup for Game 2 on Saturday, Roberts citing backup catcher Austin Barnes’ history catching Game 2 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu and Barnes’ limited history at the plate against Brewers starter Wade Miley (1 for 4) for giving the backup a start over Grandal.Barnes went 0 for 3 but drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning that cut the Brewers’ lead to 3-2. Grandal’s only appearance in Game 2 followed that at-bat, and he hit into an inning-ending double play. Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start The two could be related. With pitch-framing becoming more prized by analytically-inclined front offices, catchers have become aware of the importance of that skill to their stature and paycheck (Grandal can become a free agent this winter) – perhaps to the point of chasing the stolen strike at the expense of other skills like blocking bad pitches.“I think at times that’s plausible, yeah,” Roberts said. “Especially when he’s trying to catch a low strike or steal a ball down below the zone, he sometimes has trouble catching the ball. It’s not only him. I think catchers across the league are guilty of that too. Because the pitch-framing is at such a premium right now. We can quantify that. So I think catchers, whether they admit it or not, are very mindful of that.”OCTOBER WOESClayton Kershaw’s 2.39 ERA during the regular season is one of several reasons he will be a Hall of Famer after he retires. His 3.72 ERA in the opening round of the playoffs is not bad. But after Game 1 on Friday night, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner now has a 4.92 ERA in 13 appearances (10 starts) in the LCS or World Series.What is it about October that seems to drain Kershaw of his superpowers?“That’s a Clayton question,” Roberts said initially when asked before Game 2 on Saturday.It is not a question Kershaw cares to answer.“I can see that he wants to pitch well in the postseason,” Roberts said after some prompting. “He’s very conscious of certain narratives out there. Does he feel extra incentive or motivation to pitch well in the postseason? Maybe. But when he takes the baseball, I don’t think that’s on the forefront of his mind. I think his thought is like it always is – to execute a pitch.”CLOSED INWhile rain pelted Southern California on Friday and Saturday, Milwaukee stayed dry during Games 1 and 2. Yet the Miller Park roof remained closed. Why?Before each season, teams in retractable-roof stadiums – Seattle, Arizona, Toronto, Milwaukee, Houston and Miami – are required to file a list of weather-related preconditions for closing their roof. MLB has the final discretion to open or close a roof during the postseason, using the home team’s criteria as a guideline.A Brewers spokesperson said the roof generally remains closed if the temperature is below 60 degrees. It was only 53 degrees by the first pitch of Game 2 on Saturday afternoon, and even colder Friday night for Game 1.JOC POPSDodgers outfielder Joc Pederson and his wife, Kelsey, are expecting the birth of the couple’s first child on Wednesday, the day of Game 5 in Los Angeles.Staff writer J.P. Hoornstra contributed to this notebook.Related Articles How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies last_img read more