WBB : Syracuse still searching for consistent guard play early in season

first_imgTwo possessions after Syracuse point guard La’Shay Taft had the ball stolen away by Lafayette guard Brya Freeland last Saturday, Shanee Williams committed another turnover.The junior guard took the ball from the left elbow, sprinted along the baseline and had the ball knocked out of her hands. She gathered it and hesitated before putting the ball back on the floor.Then the referee blew the whistle: double-dribble violation.And just like that Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman signaled to the bench, taking both players out. With the graduation of starting guards Erica Morrow and Tasha Harris, the Orange guards are still settling into their new roles this season.‘When you lose two guards like that, you’re going to have your up and down games,’ Hillsman said. ‘Overall I think they’re doing a good job of getting the ball up the court and getting the ball into the paint and that’s our goal.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe trouble for the majority of SU’s guards has been adapting to change, whether that is a change in position or in scheme. The up-tempo, high-pressure system that Hillsman has decided to use this season has been a challenging transition for the backcourt. Taft, Williams and sophomore Rachel Coffey have combined for 22 assists and 22 turnovers and struggled to score in an inconsistent start to the season.The Orange guards will look to improve upon their early season struggles when Syracuse (4-0) takes on Binghamton (3-1) on the road Saturday at 2 p.m.Syracuse’s game plan to get the ball inside has been clear, but where the team’s guards figure into that scheme has yet to be seen. The frontcourt of Kayla Alexander, Iasia Hemingway and Carmen Tyson-Thomas have provided the brunt of the scoring load, while Elashier Hall has found her niche in the early part of the season as SU’s most dynamic guard.With Taft, Williams and Coffey failing to provide a spark at point guard, Hall has been the Orange’s best alternative to take the ball up the court.Hall has accepted that responsibility and the results have followed. She scored 20 and 18 points in SU’s first two games against Long Beach State and St. Francis, respectively.‘It’s just taking my role as leader and just pushing my other teammates forward,’ Hall said. ‘Someone has to step up and set the pace, so I think why not me?’Taft, who has started three games at point guard early on this season, has struggled after playing shooting guard most of last season. She has scored just 5.25 points per game and committed 11 turnovers through four games.Fortunately for SU, Taft finally got on track against Buffalo on Tuesday. She contributed nine points on 3-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. And although point guard is not her natural position, she is confident she’ll settle into that role.‘I have played point guard, shooting guard alternated,’ Taft said. ‘But point guard, my senior year (in high school) more because one of the point guards that graduated, so I had to step into the role. But it’s not that bad at all. It’s not something I can’t do. So it is something doable.’Williams transferred from Monroe College (N.Y.) where she averaged 13.6 points, 4.9 steals and 4.1 assists per game last year. But Hillsman said she still needs to adjust to a team in which she is the lone newcomer.The new team dynamic coupled with a new scheme are two things that Williams will need to overcome to become a consistent playmaker. Williams has scored just seven points in 58 minutes of action thus far.But the unpredictable guard play early in the season does not worry Hillsman.The head coach is simply looking for a complete team performance each night, and SU’s guards need to continue to help execute Hillsman’s game plan.‘We are a pretty deep team and that’s the big thing,’ Hillsman said. ‘We have to continue to play nine players double-figure minutes and get four people in double-figure points and we’re doing a pretty good job of getting that done.’adtredin@syr.edu             Published on November 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img