June 21, 2021

Syracuse’s press defense crumbles in national championship game loss to Connecticut

first_imgHillsman called timeout after his own team’s made shots to set the defense and the press, guard Maggie Morrison said. But even that didn’t make a difference.UConn’s 17 turnovers were mostly in the half court. Syracuse’s seven steals were almost half of the team’s season average.The scrappy and chaotic presence it’s used to take down high-profile teams like No. 1 seed South Carolina never showed.After the game, associate head coach Vonn Read, the Xs and Os mastermind who designs each one of Syracuse’s presses, stood outside the locker room door with a solemn expression on his face.On Monday, Read said he wished he had some new scheme that he could pull out in the national title game to take the Huskies by surprise. Unfortunately for the Orange, it had already shown everything it had: the zones presses, the man presses and everything in between.“We are who we are,” he said.Who Syracuse is, is second best. Comments INDIANAPOLIS — Connecticut point guard Moriah Jefferson hesitated to size up the Syracuse defense. She took one step left, one step right and other back to the left to split a triple team of Alexis Peterson, Brittney Sykes and Cornelia Fondren that tried to trap her in front of the half-court line.As she sped past, the trio turned to watch the Huskies hit an easy layup just seconds later. Peterson had jogged partway back into the defensive zone before stopping to hunch over and take several deep breaths.“Just dribbling through and attacking and that’s what you have to do with the press,” Syracuse guard Fondren said of what UConn did well. “And we kind of struggled with our press today.”The Orange lives and dies by its ability to press and turn other teams over. In the national championship game on Tuesday, No. 4 seed Syracuse (30-8, 13-3 Atlantic Coast) died a tragic death, falling to No. 1 seed Connecticut (38-0, 18-0 American Athletic), 82-51, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Syracuse’s full-court pressure created no turnovers in the first half. A team that forced the most turnovers in the country and averaged nearly 13 steals per game never found its true form.UConn was unlike any team that Syracuse had faced before. It was long, quick and had an unparalleled ability to pass the ball down the court, which contributed to 22 assists on 28 made shots and a whopping 399 passes compared to SU’s 165. The Orange players were more likely to be chasing after a Huskies player running down the court than to have stopped one in a trap.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textConnecticut came away with its record fourth-straight national championship and 11th overall.“They’re a great team, well coached and they have a lot of great players,” guard Brianna Butler said. “They were just able to do the little things whether it be dribble past or pass ahead. We just weren’t able to react as well as we have been all season.”MORE COVERAGE:Gallery: Check out the best sights from the national championship gameSyracuse’s magical season falls one win short of the ultimate prize3 takeaways from SU’s loss to UConn in the title game Evan Jenkins | Staff Photographer Published on April 6, 2016 at 1:43 am Contact Jon: [email protected] | @jmettus Facebook Twitter Google+ Jefferson dribbled through Syracuse’s man-to-man press with ease, often finishing with simple layups. When she couldn’t get through the zone pressure sets on her own, she’d loft a high pass to 6-foot-4 Breanna Stewart who’d be stationed near half court. Consistently, in three passes, the Huskies would be on the other end of the floor for a score.Just once in the first half the Orange decided not to press. On the next play, Syracuse came back with the pressure causing Stewart to take a timeout when she found no one to inbound to. It was the press’ best result through the first 20 minutes.It didn’t help that Syracuse shot just 25 percent, limiting its chances to press effectively.“We have a press package off missed shots, but it’s so unsettled, “ Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “It’s a long, athletic team, that they can pass the ball up the floor.”There was a bright spot in the third quarter. Fondren swatted down a pass at half court on one play and Bria Day intercepted a cross-court heave the next. All of a sudden, the Orange found itself on a 16-0 run that cut the Huskies’ lead to 17.Syracuse switched from the man-to-man back to the 1-2-2 press and it was temporarily working.“It looked like we were playing our game,” Butler said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to play like that the whole 40 minutes.” Related Stories Syracuse’s magical run falls 1 game short of title in 82-51 loss to Connecticut3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 82-51 national championship loss to ConnecticutStorify: Community supports Syracuse despite 82-51 national championship loss to UConnGallery: Syracuse can’t pull off historic upset over Connecticutlast_img

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