Commentary

Can Syracuse ride this defense?

The Orange defend the inside well, but an alarming trend has formed elsewhere

Originally Published: February 13, 2012
By Ken Pomeroy | Special to ESPN Insider
Fab MeloCal Sport Media/AP ImagesSyracuse's defense is formidable near the paint, anchored by center Fab Melo.

Last week's look at Wisconsin's ability to prevent opponents' 3-point attempts got me thinking about how the other half lives. Much like certain programs run successful defenses without forcing many turnovers (UConn) or preventing offensive rebounds well (Louisville), there are teams that are effective defensively while allowing a lot of 3-point attempts. How do they do it?

There's a weak relationship between limiting 3-point attempts and defensive efficiency. However, some defenses not only succeed but dominate while allowing a lot 3-point attempts. Look no further than last season's edition of Florida State , which led the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency while allowing the 21sthighest 3-point attempt percentage. (While the Seminoles' defense was amazing, it's worth noting that their season-ending loss to VCU in the Sweet 16 was partially the result of the Rams being able to take almost half their shots from 3-point range, where they made 12-of-26 attempts.)

Over the years, no tournament-quality team has more consistently allowed a bunch of 3-point attempts than Syracuse. Jim Boeheim's famous zone is fairly aggressive as zones go, extending well beyond the 3-point line at times, but its most important feature is that it's nearly impenetrable from action on the dribble. Thus, opponents are frequently relegated to long-distance jump shots.