In ACC Tournament with short turnarounds, SU needs its best when it usually gets its worst

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Following Syracuse’s third loss in seven days, head coach Gary Gait judged his team as “tired and flat-footed.” The Orange had just been steamrolled by Duke, 17-10, in the Carrier Dome and Gait proposed that the signs of a blowout were present before Syracuse stepped on the field.“With one day of rest, one day of preparation, those are the games we don’t play well,” Gait said after the Duke game. “It’s unfortunate. It’s just the nature of the schedule this year.”He’s admitted that few things have gone according to plan for No. 19 Syracuse (9-8,1-6 Atlantic Coast) this season. A shortened fall ball, a rash of injuries and lack of conference wins has placed the Orange firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble, Gait said. But SU’s schedule hasn’t helped. The Orange has often encountered a slew of games in a week, meaning there’s a day or two to prepare for an often top-ranked opponent.Thursday’s ACC tournament in Durham, North Carolina, potentially has the No. 6-seed Orange playing three games in four days. The stretch begins against second-seeded North Carolina (12-3, 6-1), which beat SU 20-11 earlier this month in the Dome. To extend its season into May, Syracuse will likely need to upset the Tar Heels and then succeed in a format that has been its foil.“We’re banged up,” Gait said, “and we’ve scrambled and tried to get through the number of games in a short amount of time. It’s been tough. We’re hoping to regroup, get through this week … and do what we need to do.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe stumble against the Blue Devils was the Orange’s fourth contest in seven days. Syracuse started that stretch with a 11-10 overtime loss against Notre Dame on March 24, followed by a 14-10 breakdown at Northwestern two days later, and a 17-16 win in Princeton on March 29.2018’s gauntlet was determined by factors outside of Gait’s control, he said. The Carrier Dome was set to undergo renovations during the season, he said – so SU hadn’t finalized its 2018 slate. When it turned out that the SU would be able to play on its home turf, it was too late. Most other teams had finalized their schedule, leaving the Orange with short layovers between matchups.A consequence of this has often materialized in mental errors, players and coaches said. Passes in the midfield are forced and result in turnovers. Defensive slides aren’t as crisp. Assistant coach Caitlin Defliese attributed SU’s uptick in fouls to mental fatigue, too.“We try to put a lot of prep behind each game,” sophomore defender Lila Nazarian said. “It’s really hard to have a 24-48 hour turnaround and be ready to play a totally different team. We do the best we can, but sometimes we’re just not as prepared as we want to be.”This year, SU has turned to its man-to-man defense at a higher rate, players said. At times, it has tried to switch to a zone scheme based on the opponent, but the quick switch has been difficult with fewer practices.The Orange’s first compact stretch spanned a week in early March. It started with a 17-16 defeat against Virginia on March 4. Syracuse upset Florida, 17-15 on March 7, and was crushed by Maryland, 18-11, four days later. SU’s backline conceded 50 goals, the most it allowed in a three-game period all season.“We’re not as dialed in as we need to be,” Nazarian added, “and that’s when the fundamentals come away.”Syracuse implements fundamental drills when it typically has a few days between matchups, sophomore attack Emily Hawryschuk said. Defenders work on boxing out, and attackers go over dodging techniques. Players push themselves harder in these practices because the extended layoff allows their bodies to recover, Hawryschuk said.Alternatively, practices the day before a game consist of seven versus seven, set plays, and clearing practice, junior defender Alexa Radziewicz said. After film breakdowns of both SU’s play and its upcoming opponent, there isn’t a lot of time for much else.In preparing for Thursday’s game, some coaches have argued that the earlier, condensed run of games give SU an advantage. Before Hawryschuk hopped on the team bus on Tuesday, she tried to echo the same sentiment.“The schedule this year, it was …,” she said before her voice trailed off. “It was tough the way it was set up. But, it does prepare you for situations like this. I think our bodies will be prepared for it. That’s the big thing.”With its season potentially on the brink, SU will follow the same formula it did earlier in 2018. This time, it hopes for different results. Comments Published on April 25, 2018 at 9:08 pm Contact Nick: nialvare@syr.edu | @nick_a_alvarezlast_img

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