What can Syracuse men’s basketball take from this year’s NBA finalists to apply next season?

We know that college basketball coaches like to use what works in the NBA. We’ve seen more Syracuse Orange opponents use the “five out” strategy to run 3 for 3 against the zone. So, if you’re a member of the Syracuse coaching staff, what can you do for next year’s team of these two teams?

Boston Celtics: Disruptive Defense

Jim Boeheim came out and said he expects the 22-23 Orange will have to rely on their defense to create an offense. He hinted that we might see some individual defense, and with a deeper and more athletic lineup, he might want to borrow Ime Udoki’s principles. The Celtics used their versatility to defend the perimeter and relied on Robert Williams’ rim defense to keep their opponents from risking deep paint penetration. Jesse Edwards doesn’t have the athleticism of Williams, but the 7-foot college player can hold off opponents simply by using his size and confusing opponents. Edwards needs to control his fouls, especially those stupid shots or over the back shots that send him to the bench.

Will Boheim use the more athletic freshmen to put in some pressure protection in hopes of creating more transitional offense? Can he get his player to bribe at that end and force the ball against the opposition’s weaker attacking threats? A big part of the Celtics’ post-season success has been forcing teams to come off the attack and get on the floor to get a clean look, and a shot-strapped Syracuse team could benefit from that approach.

Boston Celtics vs.  Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center

Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Golden State Warriors: intentional movement

The beauty of what this Warrior Dynasty has done is that they make the defense guard them for full hours. There is no need to stand and watch the players move themselves and the ball to get open views. Sure, there are times when they use isolation to bring out the mismatch, but the many moves and cuts they make off the ball are what drives this machine.

Syracuse struggled last year when the team went for an isolation ball. The players got stuck on the perimeter, and a good defense could close in and force the Oranges to make bad shots. Next year the Syracuse team will have the threat of Joseph Girard on the perimeter and the big Jesse Edwards on the ring to keep the defense busy. Is it possible to teach other players to read defense and move to open spaces for clear views? Will Syracuse be able to not only pass but also make an extra pass to turn a good shot into a great one? Will Orange force their opponents to defend the entire floor, or are they content with frequent pick-and-roll that leaves three players immobile?

2022 NBA Finals - Game 6

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Coaching: Adjustments

The Celtics ran off in Game 1 and appeared to be in control, but Steve Kerr adjusted his rotation and moved away from his veterans to match Boston’s athletes. Ime Udoka mixed up his defensive leanings to try and confuse the Warriors. They fought each other, growing small and big at different times, trying to get their opponent to play differently. With an expanded roster next season, Syracuse should have options. They should be able to play with a group that can press all over the court or with a different lineup to optimize their shots from the outside, and if the opposition wants to play with three defenders, the Oranges have the ability to match. Will Jim Boheim and the staff find ways to get their opponents to react and adapt to them?

Being able to play well on both ends of the floor will be critical for the Oranges as they hope to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2023.

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