California exposes Syracuse zone in 2K Sports Classic win

first_imgNEW YORK — Syracuse’s zone couldn’t keep it in the game Thursday night. The 2-3 set that usually suffocates opposing offenses was scrambling against California. There were too many short possessions on the other end of the floor and some slow transition defense by the Orange. And as SU fell behind, it had to extend its zone, leaving Golden Bears’ forward David Kravish increasingly open in the high post in No. 23 Syracuse’s 73-59 loss to California on Thursday night in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden.“We just wanted to run everything through the high post,” Cal guard Jordan Mathews said. “We have a lot of action in the high post. Guys like David, like Kingsley (Okoroh) and Christian (Behrens) are great passers so we thought that that was our main point where we could attack the zone. And it worked.”Most every team goes after the zone through the high post, but the Golden Bears were just the first to beat it this season. Their 42-percent 3-point shooting was a big reason.At first, Cal couldn’t shoot over the zone and hardly tried to. Jabari Bird’s 3 with 4:17 left in the first half was the Golden Bears’ first made triple and only their sixth attempt.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThey only shot one more the rest of the half, a contested look from Bird on the left wing that SU’s Trevor Cooney ran out at.“At first we were a little stagnant,” Bird said. “They were pretty long out there. They made sure we didn’t get any quick shots up. And at first it was a little tough but once we got a few jump shots our confidence increased and we started making good plays on both ends of the court.”At halftime, Cal led 34-22. But then the Golden Bears started to hit contested looks. Kravish hadn’t stopped exploiting SU under the basket. As the game wore on, though, Syracuse had to play California further and further away from the basket, sometimes inverting the zone to close out the wings with more of a 3-2 look. It opened up more space around the basket and SU was back where it started, giving up points in the paint.Kravish had slipped in behind Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough just 2:20 into the game, giving Cal a 5-2 lead. He would finish with 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists, punctuating his night with a dunk with 2:29 left in the game to give Cal a 69-52 lead.Afterward, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said the game wasn’t about defense, that it was about the team’s offensive struggles. And SU did hold Cal to a beatable point total.But when asked what the Golden Bears did better in attacking his zone, Boeheim said: “They had a really good player. Some people don’t.” Comments Published on November 21, 2014 at 1:04 pm Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_ Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more