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first_img Published on April 6, 2016 at 12:54 am Contact Sam: sjfortie@syr.edu | @Sam4TR Facebook Twitter Google+ Gary Gait said he saw a team that lacked hustle, energy and failed to adapt to the situation the Orange faced as a team trailing on the road. But for the Syracuse head coach and junior defender Haley McDonnell, the one prevailing thing that doomed the team most was a lack of communication. That led to a 13-8 upset loss on the road for then-No. 3 Syracuse during Spring Break to then-No. 16 Boston College. “Even while the game was going on, we knew we needed to reconvene and (figure it out),” McDonnell said. “… We weren’t as focused as we needed to be and it showed on the field. (Our team) didn’t prepare as well as we needed to for that game.” Since Boston College, No. 4 Syracuse’s (10-3, 3-1 Atlantic Coast) lowest point this season, it has returned the level of play befitting of its No. 2 preseason ranking. The SU defense has shut down two of the conference’s best scorers, held one team to half its average scoring output and spurred a three-game winning streak. It’s all because of one fix that increased talking and decreased goals allowed. “I think they’ve responded really well (to the Boston College game),” Gait said. “A lot of it is with energy and hustle (picking) up … but the number one thing is communication.” AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThat’s keyed the winning streak that began on the road against No. 4 Notre Dame and continued in the Carrier Dome against No. 14 Duke and unranked Connecticut. The Orange defense held each of those teams under their averages for shots and goals in each game. Against Duke, attacks Kyra Harney and Kelci Smesko, two of the ACC’s top five goal-scorers, combined for only one shot. In those games after BC, Gait said there’s been a noticeable difference in communication on defense. He said the lack of talk before contributed to being unable to anticipate groundballs, losing speed on defenders with bad angles and those things put SU in tough situations. The communication, according to McDonnell, could be as simple as saying, “Hey, I’m on your right,” when running back in the defensive zone. Or it could be about rotation in Syracuse’s zone ‘backer defense. Whatever it need be, McDonnell said, the team just needs to talk. That’s largely because the importance of defensive communication extends beyond the defenders. SU goalkeeper Allie Murray’s unusual aggression in net puts SU at risk of allowing open-netters, which assistant coach Regy Thorpe said he’s OK with in February, but to limit those opportunities the defense needed to talk. Gait particularly saw that against Connecticut, when the defense was “dialed in.” He said they were pressuring shooters, allowed no easy shots which, in turn, allowed Murray to make easy saves. “Getting that first save (against UConn) is huge to building her confidence,” Gait said. “She got seven saves in that first half and a lot of it is because there was pressure on the shooters (through communication).” In the first win of the streak, against Notre Dame, Murray saved one shot and two were forced wide of the net by the defense in the last 24 seconds to preserve a one-goal lead. It’s a run that’s sprung from team dissatisfaction one afternoon in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, over Spring Break, a day when McDonnell said the team knew it was much better than what it showed. “We just talked about the way it was (in the locker room),” Gait said of the BC postgame team talk. “’You got outhustled and you got outworked. Remember this, learn from it and let’s move forward.’” Commentslast_img read more

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first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Even laid-back Lou Williams, the smooth rapper-hooper who last season was teased by teammates for the “weakest” of celebrations after hitting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, even he found himself exerting extra emotion on the court Wednesday.Without fans in the bubble infusing an arena with life, cultivating that energy will fall to the players – and they felt it Wednesday, Williams said after helping lead the Clippers to a win in their first scrimmage with 22 points off the bench.“It was definitely an interesting environment,” said Williams, a slight rasp in his voice, after the Clippers’ 99-90 victory over the Orlando Magic at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. “We had some fun with creating energy for ourselves on the bench and being able to talk things out on the floor.“It forces you as a team to be involved through and through, from the coaching staff to the guys on the floor to the players on the bench. It will force everybody to create energy for themselves to be all on the same page and just create some momentum for yourselves. … “This is the most vocal I’ve been forced to be during a game,” Williams added. “Usually when fans are communicating or yelling and screaming things and celebrating, this is an opportunity for me to get back in the game. I wasn’t allowed to do that. That’s different and that’s interesting.” Clippers’ Paul George: ‘If I make shots, this series could be a little different’ Game 4 photos: Luka Doncic, Mavs shock Clippers in overtime Having Noah on board ought to help in that regard; the high-energy, high-IQ veteran big man stepped in at starting center and contributed right away Wednesday, with four points, five rebounds and three assists and some positive mojo in his first 15 minutes as a Clipper.Adding Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell’s typical top-flight intensity figures to pay off too, whenever those players return to the court after stepping away from the bubble to attend to personal matters.But it’ll take more than three vocal characters to propel a team toward a championship inside the relatively sparse confines of the bubble – despite the league’s attempt to replicate some of the usual elements with music and some piped-in crowd sound.Rivers observed some of that togetherness taking hold Wednesday, he said.“Early on, all the players sat in their seats (spaced out on the bench), and as the game went on, everyone was together,” he said. “That’s the only thing that we’re probably going to have to change a little bit is the bench seating; it’s not like we are next to each other every day in practice or practicing against each other every day. So it’s just a natural thing that the players are going to start being around each other, and I thought that was great.“Overall, I thought our spirit was great, in the game, and one of the things that is new is you can hear your teammates cheering for you and talking on the floor.“I thought that was OK.”SIXTH MAN CONSIDERATIONIt’s arguably a three-man race for Sixth Man of the Year – and Williams argues it shouldn’t be.“I was looking at the predictions that everybody was tagging me in (on Twitter) and I was a little disappointed because Trezz, he made history,” Williams said. “Over the years, we’ve made history, and we’re on the No. 2 team in the West. We’ve sacrificed and we’ve still been able to be successful. And as for conversation, (for) whatever reason, we are not one of the top guys in that conversation. I thought that was a little weird, but I feel like we both deserve it.”Williams (18.7 points per game) and Harrell (18.6) are on track to become the first duo in NBA history to average 17-plus points per game off the bench. Their contributions give the Clippers the highest-scoring bench in the league again this season – with an average of 51.5 points per game, after the team’s reserves accounted for 53.2 points per game a season ago.Related Articles What the Clippers are saying the day after Luka Doncic’s game-winner tied series, 2-2 For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory Clippers hope they can play to their capabilities, quell Mavericks’ momentum Surmised new Clipper Joakim Noah: “A lot of teams say that slogan, ‘We all we got.’ But, in this environment, it’s gonna be key to really be there for each other.” For his part, the 26-year-old Harrell is having a career year, including becoming the first Clipper with 20-plus points and 15-plus rebounds off the bench in a win over Washington on Dec. 1.But Oklahoma City’s Dennis Schröder has made a case too, averaging 19 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game off the bench in his second year with the team.Williams, though, believes the Sixth Man crown he’s worn for two consecutive seasons should remain in L.A.: “I really would love to share that award with Trezz, and if not share it, I say give it to him outright.”last_img read more

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