Afterthoughts: Even after respite of hope, Syracuse’s point guard play remains an issue

first_img Published on January 12, 2017 at 11:40 am Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds BLACKSBURG, Va. — John Gillon stood on the Syracuse sideline hunched over in ready position expecting to enter the game. He wanted to be the one to guide the Orange’s offense and lead SU to what could have been its best win of the year.Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim didn’t adhere. He remained with Frank Howard at point guard in the final minute of the game. But regardless of whom Boeheim went with, coming back from a 15-point second-half deficit was improbable. Even if Gillon did return to provide a spark, it likely would have been too late.At the beginning of the year, figuring out the point guard spot was one of the Orange’s (10-7, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) primary objectives. And after John Gillon averaged 14 points and 11 assists in his last two games, it seemed as though SU had finally solved the puzzle. But an 83-73 loss to Virginia Tech (13-3, 2-2) on Tuesday night illuminated more struggles.“Our point guard play has been really good and was as bad as it’s ever been tonight,” Boeheim said. “I don’t have an explanation for that. We have two really good games and the first half, John was 0-for-3 with no assists and two turnovers. Can’t play that way. Can’t play that way.”Frank Howard came off the bench to relieve Gillon for 13 minutes and was equally as ineffective. The duo combined to shoot 3-for-14 from the field with seven assists and two turnovers. By going with Gillon for all but one minute in the previous two games, the Orange received its best point guard production of the season. And just two days after guard output headed in the right direction, it came to a halt.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThat’s not to say that Gillon and Howard can’t bounce back, because they certainly can. But as SU’s NCAA Tournament hopes dwindle with each loss, every regression is magnified.“I let us down. I didn’t play how I needed to play,” Gillon said. “I didn’t play to the standard that we need to win and just do whatever I can to make sure it doesn’t happen again, just play with the same aggression and that hurt us.”Gillon had been at his best when driving strong to the basket. That’s what freed him up for open shots on the perimeter and forced defenses to collapse, leading to more open shots from teammates.Except against Virginia Tech, Gillon’s drives didn’t kick start the offense how it usually had. Within a five-minute span at the end of the first half, Gillon shot a layup that didn’t even touch the rim, had a shot blocked under the basket and, with a chance to cut the game to four points before halftime, committed a travel. Howard, meanwhile, went 1-for-5 from the field and didn’t bring the stability SU was looking for.“He was trying to prove he can’t shoot jump shots,” Boeheim said of Howard. “And he did, he did that.”All of this leaves Syracuse right back where it sat 10 days ago, coming off a humiliating loss to Boston College. That was before Gillon played 79 of 80 minutes in a two-game stretch, back when SU hadn’t found the right formula it had been searching for since November.Last week, that changed. Gillon is its best option, but only when he can get to the rim, set up teammates and command the offense. The Orange has an answer — but that doesn’t matter if he’s inconsistent.“I just don’t think he made any positive plays in 13 or 14 minutes,” Boeheim said of Gillon.After a brief glimmer of hope, Syracuse can’t afford that.—Asst. Photo Editor Colin Davy, cpdavy@syr.edu, contributed reporting to this article. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Angels’ Andrew Heaney unfazed by latest elbow setback

first_imgHeaney said he thinks the Angels were being cautious with what he doesn’t believe is a serious injury.“We’re fortunate enough to be part of an organization that really cares about players’ health,” Heaney said. “They are extremely cautious and careful when it comes to getting correct diagnoses. Sometimes I might feel better than what it seems like they are trying to look for, but it’s always better to be more cautious than to say, ‘You’re all right.’”There is no timetable for Heaney to resume throwing, meaning he is likely to start the season on the disabled list.Staying flexibleShohei Ohtani has started once on five days’ rest this spring, three times on six days’ rest, and his next start, on Saturday, will be on seven days’ rest. Even in a non-traditional six-man rotation, as the Angels plan to use, pitchers would normally be expected to work on five days’ rest.Asked Tuesday morning if Ohtani could work regularly with five days’ rest, a tighter schedule than he’s had for most of the spring, Scioscia said they’ll remain flexible. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “I don’t think we’re going to commit to that yet,” he said. “We’re going to see where we are. We’ll have six men in (the rotation) and there will be flexibility there to see how guys are going to come back. That’s all I can give you right now.”With off days and five other starters, it’s possible the Angels’ rotation could be a jumble that is rearranged frequently, allowing Ohtani to work on six days’ rest while the other pitchers go with four or five.AlsoAlbert Pujols played in a minor league game Tuesday, the second time in three days he’d done so. Pujols had four hits in a minor league game on Monday, followed by three in the regular exhibition game on Tuesday. Scioscia said Pujols “is feeling more comfortable in the box and wants to keep pushing that forward and getting seven at-bats down there.” Scioscia also said Pujols has done well playing first base this spring, and “nothing has changed” as far as the team’s plan to have him see significant time in the field this year. The Angels hope Pujols is healthy enough to play in the field, opening the DH spot for Ohtani…The Angels acquired infielder Luis Rengifo from the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, completing last month’s C.J. Cron trade. Rengifo, 21, played at Class-A last year, with a combined .250 average and .316 on-base percentage. He mostly plays the middle infield, but he’s also played third and the outfield.center_img TEMPE, Ariz. — Although it’s understandable for Angels fans to panic about injuries to the team’s pitchers, given the events of the past few years, Andrew Heaney isn’t worried.Asked how concerned he is about the news that he has elbow inflammation, Heaney said: “Not very.”“I feel really good,” he said of the diagnosis. “I’d rather it not be a thing, but I feel good about it.”Heaney said he felt “some kind of abnormal soreness and inflammation” after his last start Thursday. The Angels sent him for an MRI and he was examined in Southern California. No structural damage was found in his elbow, which was repaired via Tommy John surgery in July 2016.last_img read more