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first_img Published on January 23, 2018 at 9:28 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @Sam4TR Facebook Twitter Google+ Adrian Autry scowled and hurled the paper cup still full of water to the hardwood. Two managers bolted from behind the bench to sop up the spill with towels. A referee, running to Syracuse’s end of the court after a change of possession, tiptoed around the scrubbers while his eyes monitored the players and his mouth chastised Syracuse’s assistant coach.It was Jan. 6, Syracuse was playing a depleted Notre Dame team, but none of the 24,000 fans in the Carrier Dome seemed to notice the incident. Autry turned away from the court, as if he had seen enough, and toward fellow assistant Gerry McNamara.“Why would you shoot that?” he said.On the first play of the second half in a closer-than-it-should-be game, Syracuse freshman forward Oshae Brissett had driven from the left wing, spun right, where the defense met him and smashed a lefty layup attempt off the backboard that never touched the rim.Four minutes later, Brissett sunk a deep 3-pointer as the shot-clock expired. Autry, his position coach, simply nodded.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor Syracuse coaches, those two plays illustrate Brissett’s season: Sometimes maddening, sometimes marvelous. For each rebound he snares for his team-leading 9.4 per game, and for each basket he scores for his 14.9 points per game, there’s a shot that leaves coaches mystified on the bench.Though SU head coach Jim Boeheim has played Brissett through rough patches — totaling the third-most minutes this season of all freshmen in the country — he needs Brissett to take better shots if Syracuse (13-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) is to beat Boston College (13-7, 3-4) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome and spark a run to the NCAA Tournament.“Oshae, too, has taken a little step back,” Boeheim said after the team’s last game, a win over Pittsburgh on Jan. 16. “He was getting to the basket better early in the year. I still think he did try tonight. He might have gotten hit a couple of times, but you’ve still got to finish those. We need him to get back in there.”That’s because Brissett’s game all season has been keyed by his ability to get to the rim. Every opposing team knows it. As they realized Brissett wanted to put his head down and barrel in, they instructed defenders to play further off him and dare him to shoot jumpers.Brissett has struggled overall, hitting 25 for 78 shots (32.1 percent) in conference play, but has started to find a stroke from beyond the arc. In the ACC, he has hit 9-for-25 (36 percent) after starting the year 14 for 50 (28 percent).Still, the answer for Brissett in how to respond to this new defensive approach lies where he’s always been most comfortable: in the lane. He wants to jumpstart from inside-out like he did in the nonconference, he said.Autry brushed off the thought that Brissett has taken a step back.“I don’t think he’s struggling,” he told The Daily Orange. “He’s struggled to finish, but he’s being more conscious of his shot selection. At the beginning of the year, he was all go, all go, all go, all go, all go. And then the defenses got a little better.”Kevin Camelo | Digital Design EditorBrissett noticed. After his first ACC road game at Wake Forest, he noted that, just like point guard Frank Howard told him, “I wasn’t getting the calls I normally do.” After each ACC game since, he has remarked about the size and physicality of the opponents’ big me. But it’s less a surprise and more a diagnosis on why he struggled to score or why, as a team, Syracuse got pinched on the boards again.Bruising ACC play has directly affected how Brissett gets his points. In the nonconference slate, driving the lane masked struggles with shot-selection. Against Maryland, Brissett finished 0-for-13 outside the layup lane, but Boeheim thought he “was really good” because he got to the basket. Ditto against Texas Southern, when Boeheim ripped him — “Usually the first shot he takes is a terrible shot, and tonight was the worst shot he’s taken” — but ultimately concluded Brissett made up for it by driving.In the nonconference, Brissett could shoot below 36 percent and still end up with 25 points because teams rewarded his aggression off the bounce with bailout fouls on less-than-ideal looks. Brissett’s penchant for getting to the free-throw line — making 9-for-12 against Georgetown and all 16 against Buffalo — enabled those shots.“Now, they don’t really call fouls,” Brissett said. “I have to figure out how to get in there and make the shot, not just put it up.”Autry has been preparing him for this because he knew the physicality would come. All year, he has drilled Brissett and fellow wing Matthew Moyer on finishing with balance. For one drill at practice, they start in one corner and drive toward the high post. Then, when they’re almost there, the player has to spin back inside toward two defenders: Autry, standing above the block, and a tall, rim-protecting dummy called a D-MAN.The goal for each player is to come out of the spin “low and explosive,” leap with two feet and finish the layup with balance. The last part, “balance,” is crucial, Autry said.“A lot of times, these guys try to go away from the contact,” Autry said. “That’s why they don’t get the foul or can’t finish it. We just want to try to teach them to be a little more explosive. … The physical-ness of finishing off of two (feet) is something most freshmen struggle with.”Kevin Camelo | Digital Design EditorThe offense has also tried to diversify in order to spring Brissett for good looks. His game, until now, has almost exclusively been receiving the ball on the perimeter and either passing, driving or shooting.Sometimes, though, Boeheim has had Brissett flash the high post to shake up a stagnant offense. Against Pittsburgh on Jan. 16, Brissett did so, but Boeheim came away frustrated, saying after the game that Brissett couldn’t make plays from there. Howard blamed himself for not communicating.“He’s used to being on the perimeter a lot,” Howard said. “Sometimes, he just kind of gets caught in the middle. He doesn’t really know when to flash or when to be on the perimeter. But to be honest, that’s on me.”When Brissett has received the ball, Autry said the 3-point improvement as something that will force defenses to creep back up on him and open driving lanes again. There’s been real progress on finishing with balance, Autry said, and this recent week-long layoff should recharge Brissett for the postseason push.“He’s starting to understand where he can get his shots at, what are good shots for him and open shots in rhythm,” Autry said. “It’s getting better.”Syracuse, a team consistently in need of reliable offensive options, is counting on it. Commentslast_img read more

first_imgHe was particularly frustrated with a stretch of games right after the All-Star break, when he hit .231 with one homer over a 25-game span. During that the period the Angels had a 4-13 stretch that knocked them out of contention.“Right after the All-Star break our team was in a good spot to make a playoff run,” Ohtani said. “I felt like coming out of the All-Star break was going to be a key. That’s when my struggles really started. I couldn’t really help the team win. It kind of killed our postseason chances.”Manager Brad Ausmus was not quite as hard on Ohtani as the player was on himself.“I thought he had a solid offensive year,” Ausmus said, adding that he is “not concerned” about the reduction in homers.Ohtani, 25, had been hitting the ball as hard as last year, but his mechanics were out of whack and he wasn’t getting the ball in the air enough. Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros When Ohtani had the knee surgery he was still about a month away from completing the throwing portion of his rehab from Tommy John surgery, so now that’s on hold. Although he won’t be 100 percent from the knee surgery until sometime in November, Ohtani said he can resume light throwing “really soon.”At some point in December he’s expected to reach 100 percent in terms of throwing. He had been scheduled to face hitters, for about 40 to 60 pitches, in October, but it’s unclear if he’ll go that far now, Ausmus said.Ohtani will then have some time off before beginning spring training, presumably at 100 percent as a pitcher and a hitter.General Manager Billy Eppler said the plan for next year is to have Ohtani pitch once a week and be the designated hitter about four times a week, just as he did in the first two months of 2018, before hurting his elbow.“I feel like nothing is set for me,” Ohtani said. “I still need to win a spot in spring training. But personally I feel like I’ll be ready to go from Opening Day just like last year.” Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone center_img Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros In retrospect, it’s fair to ask whether playing the season with a knee condition, or even with a surgically repaired elbow, might have affected his performance at the plate.“It’s hard to tell, because I had never played with a perfect knee or perfect elbow so I can’t give you that answer,” Ohtani said. “But I just need to accept this year’s results and get strong and come back next year.”Ohtani is a couple weeks into rehabbing from the surgery to correct his bipartite patella in his left knee. It is a congenital condition in which the kneecap remains two pieces, instead of one. Ohtani said he’d known about it for some time, but he’d never felt any pain until this year.Apparently the pain was manageable enough that Ohtani said he could have continued to play the rest of the season with it, but he wanted to have the surgery “just for that peace of mind.”Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani’s second season in the big leagues started and ended with him rehabbing, and he wasn’t all that thrilled with what happened in between.“I felt like I could have put together a lot better season,” Ohtani said through his interpreter on Tuesday. “I felt like I was going through struggles that lasted a little too long. It wasn’t what I imagined, especially with the team situation. It should have been a lot better.”Ohtani, who addressed the media for the first time since undergoing surgery to correct a congenital knee condition on Sept. 13, was disappointed with his overall performance the season after winning the American League Rookie of the Year award.Ohtani hit .286 with 18 homers and an .848 OPS in 425 plate appearances. He missed the first five weeks rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The previous year, pitching and the injury limited him to 367 plate appearances, but he hit 22 homers with a .925 OPS.last_img read more