Tyus Battle embraces playmaker role to lead Syracuse past No. 18 Louisville

first_imgAfter Wednesday’s win over Louisville, Tyus Battle emphasized multiple times that he “didn’t have the best game offensively.” But he made sure his teammates did.With 7:17 to go in the game, Syracuse broke UofL’s press and Battle flung the ball to Elijah Hughes in the left corner. The sharpshooter knocked down the 3 and stared at the rim for a few seconds as Louisville called a timeout, SU up 18. Battle hadn’t hit the dagger, as he often does, but he’d set it up.“I saw my other guys were going offensively, so I was trying to find them,” Battle said.Battle spent the majority of his time against No. 18 Louisville (18-9, 9-5 Atlantic Coast) as a playmaking point guard in Syracuse’s (18-8, 9-4) 69-49 win in the Carrier Dome. He scored 11 points, well below his season average, but dished out seven assists, all to 3-pointers. In all, he contributed to 32 total Orange points. As SU has simplified its offense with Battle spending more time at the point, he’s found ways to have good offensive games even when the shots aren’t falling.“When we’re playing like that, I don’t have to have an amazing game to beat very good teams like Louisville,” Battle said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEven before Frank Howard subbed out for the first time — Syracuse’s senior point guard played just 11 minutes — Battle set up Oshae Brissett on a swing pass to the left corner for a 3. Battle scored his own seven points early in the game going to pass SU’s associate head coach, Adrian Autry, on the Orange’s career scoring list. But then he became the playmaker.Teams don’t want to give Battle an open lane, he said after the game. That’s what happened in his “Herculean” second half at Boston College when his scoring carried SU to victory. So Louisville, until the very end, slid defenders into the lane whenever Battle drove. And Battle exploited that with his new offensive approach, often off screens, again and again. SU head coach Jim Boeheim liked playing Battle more on Wednesday for two reasons: It allows another shooter, in this case Buddy Boeheim, on the floor, and “Ty is better when he has the ball,” the head coach added.“The defense converges, they help in, and I just try to kick it out to teammates,” Battle said. “Helps me out, helps them out. People like Elijah, Buddy and Oshae, they get wide open 3s.”With one drive cut off midway through the first half, Battle handed off to Buddy, who hit a 3 from the left wing. Another handoff from Battle led to a Brissett 3 late in the first half. Battle’s last field goal came on an early steal and dunk to open the second half. Then he handed off to Hughes, again on the left wing, for a 3. Battle drove right before swinging a pass over his head to Buddy on the left side for another deep ball. With Syracuse threatening to end Louisville’s chances, Battle pushed it up the sideline to Hughes for his deafening long ball.“You can’t have one guy to win games,” Battle said. “So when all four or five guys are playing well, in double digits, hustling, running around, trapping, talking, and playing together, it makes us pretty good.”From there, Syracuse just had to handle a 1-2-2 press from the Cardinals, and for the most part, did it with ease. Battle remained the point guard for the rest of the meaningful minutes, not giving Boeheim any reason to change the rotation even against the full-court defense.Finally, with the Orange in full control and less than two minutes to go, Battle tossed it to Buddy on the right wing. He knocked down another 3 from Battle, and the SU head coach sent the Syracuse walk-ons to the scorer’s table. “We gotta play like that, gotta keep moving off each other and helping each other out,” Brissett said.In Battle’s mind, he didn’t play a great game offensively. But the stat sheet said differently. Published on February 20, 2019 at 10:34 pm Contact Billy: wmheyen@syr.edu | @Wheyen3 Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img