Taurean Thompson thrives on offense, struggles on defense; Boeheim: ‘I’m not encouraged’

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first_imgAs Monmouth inched closer to Syracuse’s early lead, Jim Boeheim played the role of conductor. He tried willing SU’s defense into perfect positions, using his hands to pull, push and swipe on the sideline. But over and over again in the first half, the Hawks pierced SU’s zone through the middle or swept underneath it.When Boeheim tried nudging Taurean Thompson to rotate within the zone, the freshman didn’t notice until it was too late. Monmouth’s Sam Ibiezugbe cut beneath Thompson and the Orange defense to lay in two more of the Hawks’ 18 first-half points in the paint.In a game that was never closer than 10 points after halftime, Syracuse still got a dose of reality.Thompson is one of five players in their first year with SU. Inexperience is bound to rear itself.“It takes time, he’ll be fine,” senior Tyler Roberson said of Thompson’s defense. “It’s nothing I’m worried about. He’s still young. He’ll get it down.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIf nothing else, the Orange can use the early part of its nonconference schedule to work out the kinks. Despite early hiccups on both sides of the ball, No. 18 Syracuse (3-0) ran away from Monmouth (1-2) in a 71-50 win on Friday night in the Carrier Dome. In the eyes of Boeheim, it only took a series of defensive miscues to nullify Thompson’s 12 points in 13 minutes. The 6-foot-10 freshman was solely outdone by Andrew White’s 18 points, all in the first half, but sunk a couple key baseline jumpers when his team was scrapping on offense.With about two minutes remaining, Thompson laid in the last of his five baskets and landed awkwardly on his left foot. He was assisted off the court, only able to put pressure on his right foot. There was no update on him after the game.Tony D. Curtis | Staff PhotographerRegardless of his immediate status, Thompson’s performance was a microcosm of the team: promising, but lacking the necessary cohesion to stack up against the ACC powerhouses looming later in the year.“He was very good on offense, but he gave up about five baskets on the other end,” Boeheim said. “So I guess I’m not encouraged.”“…You can make two jump shots, (but) if you give up 10 points on the other end, that’s not a positive.”As the first half drew on, there was no secret as to where Syracuse was going to feed the ball on offense. White was the magnet. But upon entering the game after about five minutes, Thompson started finding pockets of space.Much like his other teammates, he wasn’t getting underneath the basket. But he found the short corner. He straddled the baseline and stuck with a pass from Tyus Battle, hitting his first shot to give the Orange a 13-11 lead.Not long after, White found an open Thompson after White failed to get through a swarm of Monmouth defenders in the paint. The fifth-year senior dished it off to the freshman, and Thompson made it 17-11.“For him to come in his first, real big-time game and to produce like that,” White said, “that just shows what he’s made out of.”Thompson hit three of his four shots in the second half, highlighted by a nifty and-one basket on a bounce pass from Tyler Lydon. Friday illustrated that Thompson can blend his size and mobility to put up sound shots. That’s not the particular calling card of the Orange’s other big men in Paschal Chukwu and Dajuan Coleman.Therein lies Thompson’s value to this year’s team, even if his defense could be a liability in the first steps of his college career. It’s too early to see how much of a detriment that could be. For now, Thompson is blanketed by one of sports’ most damning concepts: Potential.“I’ve said it to everyone who’s come around here,” White said, “By his junior year, Taurean Thompson’s going to be one of the best big men in the country. You could just see glimpses of it now.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 18, 2016 at 11:45 pm Contact Connor: cgrossma@syr.edu | @connorgrossmanlast_img read more