Buzz Williams knew the 2-3 zone was coming and he couldn’t do anything to stop the world’s least inspired defense. The Syracuse Orange implemented their zone and the Marquette Golden Eagles could not hit a jumper to save their lives. Even their best player, Vander Blue, was not immune to be suckered into the zone’s mysterious ways.
Really, all the Golden Eagles had to do was hit a few jumpers fairly early on. Heck, it didn’t even have to be the whole squad making shots from deep–it could have been just one player. Anything, really, to force the Orange to extend their zone and make the middle of it easier to penetrate. For Marquette, however, they ended up being another victim of Syracuse’s use of one of the simplest designed defenses ever invented.
In fact, Marquette was so atrocious in shooting the ball that the Orange had this game wrapped up fairly early in the second half. Shooting 22 percent from the floor and a horrific 12.5 percent from beyond the arc will make a match-up end in that sort of fashion.
As the game wore on you could see players like Blue being given pretty open three pointers–as if the Orange were inviting him to take it. They were, as Blue has never been confused with another player who shoots lights-out from beyond the arc. Marquette’s best player ended up taking nine threes by the night’s end, only making two of those.
It is easy to question Williams’ inability to figure out a way to combat the zone, however, the only real threat to dispatch of it is to hit jumpers. At the end of the day, if we were to be honest, the Golden Eagles shot their way out of the NCAA Tournament. Zone or no zone, a shooting performance like they had was a sure fire way to send them home.
Lesson: Practice jumpers, kids.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone