Syracuse press forces Gonzaga to cave late in 63-60 Sweet 16 win

first_imgCHICAGO —Syracuse didn’t need to press anymore after it cut a five-point Gonzaga lead down to one in the span of 47 seconds. There were more than two minutes to play, and the Orange could have dropped back into the zone. The press is a tool that the Orange uses out of necessity, and the game situation didn’t call for it.But Syracuse had just used it to create a turnover and a score. It had gotten two straight stops and two straight baskets. There was no way that the Orange would abandon it now.“When we’ve needed it, our guys have been pretty good at it,” assistant coach Gerry McNamara said. “Everybody is so in tune with it … It was just us trying to change the game. And when you change the game and it’s working for you, go with it.”The Syracuse press defense forced Gonzaga into several turnovers and a rushed floater by Kyle Wiltjer. It started when Syracuse (22-13, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) was down by five and by the time it was all over, the Orange had escaped with a 63-60 win over Gonzaga (28-8, 15-3 West Coast) at the United Center on Friday night. The Orange advanced to the Elite Eight and will play Virginia at 6:09 p.m. on Sunday.MORE COVERAGEAdvertisementThis is placeholder textHow Syracuse basketball’s Tylers kept one of the country’s best big men in checkInside the final 11.2 seconds of Syracuse’s 63-60 Sweet 16 win over GonzagaDougherty: Ignorance is bliss (or something like that) for Syracuse’s three freshmenMichael Gbinije carries Syracuse offensively in 63-60 victory over GonzagaWatch Carmelo Anthony scream at his TV after Syracuse’s Sweet 16 win: ‘They didn’t want us to win’Time Machine: Syracuse knocks Virginia out in NCAA Tournament Published on March 26, 2016 at 1:06 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3 Facebook Twitter Google+ Related Stories How Syracuse basketball’s Tylers kept one of the country’s best big men in checkInside the final 11.2 seconds of Syracuse’s 63-60 Sweet 16 win over GonzagaMichael Gbinije carries Syracuse offensively in 63-60 victory over GonzagaDougherty: Ignorance is bliss (or something like that) for Syracuse’s three freshmenWatch Carmelo Anthony scream at his TV after Syracuse’s Sweet 16 win: ‘They didn’t want us to win’ It’s a part of Syracuse’s game that it practices a whole lot more than it actually uses. It’s effective, players and coaches say, because other teams don’t expect to see it, despite the fact that it’s a refined aspect of the SU defense. And it’s really only employed on an as-needed basis.“It gives us a spark, especially when we need to get back in the games,” Malachi Richardson said. “I don’t think teams really prepare for our press because we really don’t do it a whole lot … I think we did a good job of getting stops and getting layups.”First it was Trevor Cooney finding the ball in his hand on an errant inbounds pass with 3:10 left to play. On the next possession, Wiltjer took a shot out of rhythm and immediately fouled Tyler Roberson on the rebound. Then, with 1:17 to play, the Bulldogs were having trouble getting the ball across half court. Cooney deflected a pass that would have done just that, and there was a 10-second violation.“It’s what we do every single day in practice,” Cooney said.”And I saw my opportunities and I took it.”The Orange will only use the press in a sense of urgency, and it’s a dynamic that Mike Hopkins says works in SU’s favor because opponents are playing more conservative with a big lead. Syracuse is on the offensive.When SU was down by 12 points with four minutes to play against Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament, the press helped the Orange come back and tie the game. When SU was down by seven with less than two minutes to play against Virginia Tech in February, it was the catalyst of a rally to overtime.Hopkins says he hopes the Orange doesn’t need to break it out against Virginia. But if it has to, it can.“It really worked tonight,” Hopkins said. “It was the game-changer. It was pretty impressive.” Commentslast_img

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