Johnson remains unsure of future after loss, Bulldogs use patience to solve 2-3 zone

Johnson remains unsure of future after loss, Bulldogs use patience to solve 2-3 zone

September 17, 2020 siyigpggwzmw 0

first_imgThis couldn’t be the right time to ask the nagging question.Wes Johnson had just finished a tearful walk from press room to locker room, swinging his arm around teammate Andy Rautins. He consoled the guard for just one of several emotional breakdowns he’d see over the next couple hours. But as Johnson sat pinned against the locker room wall surrounded by reporters, it came out anyway. Was this his last game at Syracuse, or did the Tournament make him hungry for another chance at the title? ‘It’s kind of hard to say,’ Johnson said. ‘I really don’t know yet.’ AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter a 31-point performance against Gonzaga the week before, Johnson’s stock was at an all-time high. After successfully rebounding from multiple injuries and averaging 22 points per game on collegiate basketball’s largest stage, Web sites like NBADraft.net had him pegged as high as No. 3, right behind Kentucky’s John Wall and Ohio State’s Evan Turner. If he is to strike while the iron is hot, now may be a good time. Still, following the heartbreaking loss, there wasn’t much to say about Johnson’s future. ‘He hasn’t talked about it,’ SU assistant coach Rob Murphy said. ‘I’m sure he’ll sit down with his family, and we’ll get a chance to talk about it at that point. But no, it hasn’t been talked about thus far.’  It was a similar pack that formed around Johnson after Syracuse’s victory over St. John’s on March 2, the Orange’s final home game of the season. The atmosphere was a little different then, but Johnson’s answers were mostly the same. His mind wasn’t even close to being made up. At times, he said he grew nostalgic about the Carrier Dome crowd, making his decision lean more toward staying. And after SU’s loss to Butler, it was more of the same. ‘Right now, I’m undecided,’ Johnson said. ‘Especially losing like this is very hurtful, it just makes me lean toward coming back to school. But I really haven’t put that much thought into it yet.’Butler’s offensive patience pays offButler never worried about making 3s. That hasn’t been the key to breaking Syracuse’s renowned 2-3 zone. First, Butler focused on defense. Second, it looked to milk the clock and get quality shots.Head coach Brad Stevens knew that a possible Syracuse void in the middle — no Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson in foul trouble — would create space to drive. And with that, sophomore Gordon Hayward scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half to lead a balanced Butler attack.‘I don’t want to take anything away from ourselves, but Onuaku in the middle of that zone is a difference-maker,’ Stevens said. ‘And when you get Jackson in foul trouble, it’s not the same.’Hayward’s hard drive and floater at the 12:54 mark silenced a quick SU flurry. After flushing a dunk and drilling a 3-pointer, Wes Johnson had just redirected all momentum in Syracuse’s favor. But Hayward’s bucket, and Butler’s overall patience, never let the Orange race ahead.Whenever Syracuse threatened, Butler answered. Whereas Syracuse panicked with 18 turnovers, the Bulldogs only had seven.‘Under any circumstance, I think we’re poised,’ guard Ronald Nored said. ‘You have to be tough over the course of a game. We talk about whether we come out down 10 or up 10, it’s still basketball. There’s still many possessions left in the game.’This and thatButler has now won 23 straight games, the longest active streak in the NCAA…The Bulldogs will advance to the Elite Eight for the first time ever…Butler’s 13 steals tied a season-high…Andy Rautins finishes his career at Syracuse with 282 career 3-pointers, which ranks second all-time behind Gerry McNamara (400)[email protected]@syr.edu Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on March 25, 2010 at 12:00 pmlast_img

 

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