College Basketball Jim Boeheim Syracuse

Syracuse: Jim Boeheim considers using man-to-man defense


Syracuse could ditch their 2-3 zone defensive scheme next season. 

Haha, just kidding, sort of…

According to Donna Ditota of, Head Coach Jim Boeheim, who is notorious for using the 2-3 Zone on defense, will test out using a man-to-man defensive scheme when Syracuse travels to Italy for a few exhibition games later this summer. 

“You can’t try man-to-man if you don’t practice it,” Boeheim told Ditota. “I’d never switch to man-to-man unless we were able to play good man-to-man. Ever.”

Since Syracuse is traveling internationally to take on foreign teams before their official season kicks off against Virginia on November 6, Syracuse is allowed to hold 10 team practices before their departure to Italy. 

The team will stay in Italy for 10 days from August 10 to August 20 before classes start the following week. Boeheim’s team will play in four exhibition games against different Italian teams. 

Due to the extra reps available with the additional practice days, Boeheim is open to using the man-to-man defense that many other teams across the nation use. 

“I would never gamble in a game during the regular season, but if you gamble over there and it doesn’t work, it’s not going to be a problem,” Boeheim told Ditota. “Until I see them I don’t know that there’s not some possibility that we won’t play some man-to-man. So we’ll see how this team is and then after we get through practices in the fall, we’ll decide if we play it in some situations.”

It seems as if Syracuse is the only powerhouse that hasn’t made the switch to man-to-man defense. Boeheim’s coaching success came from the early 2000’s when college basketball was focused on getting the ball inside instead of outside shooting. 

The 2-3 Zone has hurt Syracuse in recent years as the zone is successful against teams that play “big-man” basketball but as the game started to focus on shooting the ball behind the three-point line Boehiem’s teams have failed to adjust. 

It’s a good thing that Syracuse decided to take on some international teams before they start NCAA play as the team’s rotation isn’t set in stone, unlike many of their ACC competitors. 

After the departure of Oshae Brissett, Tyus Battle, Frank Howard and Pascal Chukwu there remains some uncertainty in the Boeheim’s lineups. 

Elijah Huges is the only returning starter for the Orange this season.

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