Malachi Richardson, equally unpredictable and unfazed, is ready for the big stage

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first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ With Syracuse trudging through a slow start, Richardson scored eight straight points to jumpstart the offense. First came a pull-up 3 from the right wing, then a catch-and-shoot 3 from the same spot and a swooping reverse layup through a crowd of Dayton defenders. As he emerged from the crowd around the rim, Richardson yelled “Come on!” before running back to his spot on the wing of the 2-3 zone.“He was just really aggressive,” SU guard Trevor Cooney said. “He took what the defense gave him and he got in the lane and made plays.”Richardson had a game-high 10 points at the half — at times getting to the rim, at others creating space on the perimeter — and he lightly nodded his head while jogging until the tunnel.Not last this time, but leading the way.***Logan Reidsma | Senior Staff PhotographerWith the ability to knock down perimeter jumpers paired with a lightning-quick first step, Malachi Richardson is simply hard to guard. But it’s even harder to describe the 6-foot-6 “wing,” who isn’t guard or forward and plays with a polished carelessness that blurs positional lines.He doesn’t model his game after any player in particular, saying he can only play like himself. If you tried to illustrate Richardson from the top down, the first thing you’ll see is his peacock-like hair. When he goes to Nick’s Barber Shop in Syracuse, he asks big barber Will for the same cut every time: cut the sides down, fade it a little bit, let the sides go.A straw poll of the Syracuse locker room after beating Dayton came up with these adjectives to describe Richardson’s hair: sporadic, swaggy, awesome, swagged-out, outrageous.“I don’t know if outrageous is a compliment,” said SU walk-on Shaun Belbey, cracking a smile as he peered at the top of Richardson’s head. “Malachi just does what he wants. That’s how he is.”It was that unpredictability, that will to do whatever he wanted, that made him a matchup problem for Dayton on Friday. Flyers head coach Archie Miller tried to slow Richardson down. First was 6-foot guard Kyle Davis, then quick-sliding Scoochie Smith, then 6-foot-6 Charles Cooke who played with Richardson at Trenton Catholic (New Jersey) Academy.None of it worked. None of it really came close.With Syracuse pulling away from Dayton six minutes into the second half, Richardson crossed over a defender and unleashed an off-balance 3. As it sailed toward the rim he screamed, “And 1!” which translated to, ‘I know this is going in.’ And it did, making an 11-point lead 14 and permanently putting the Flyers out of reach.Seven minutes later, Richardson high-stepped inside and flicked a layup through a heavy foul. As the ball slowly trickled in, he bounced up and down in the middle of the paint and again screamed, “And 1!”The refs whistled a media timeout and everyone on the SU bench sprung up to give him a high-five. He slapped their hands and sat down, a stern look on his face. Then he stood up and smiled wide. Then he sat down again and took a deep breath — unsure of what to do with himself during the short break, fixed on extending Syracuse’s season to the Round of 32 on Sunday.“You want me to describe Malachi in one word? His hair?” SU forward Tyler Roberson said after the game. “I mean he’s just Malachi. Malachi is Malachi man, I don’t know.”Margaret Lin | Senior Staff Photographer***Before he scored 21 points, used all five of his fouls for good measure and entertained a crowd of reporters in front of his locker, Richardson woke up to an alarm at 6:55 a.m.With the Orange’s game tipping off at 11:15 a.m. central time, it was a particularly tough wake-up time for a 19-year-old who enjoys his sleep. But his pregame routine didn’t waver from there, starting with a team meeting over breakfast, 30 minutes of relaxation, a little bit of film and then a short trip to the Scottrade Center.“I always try to keep it the same no matter how early it is,” Richardson. “I just try and make sure I get my music in and make sure I relax a little bit and come here and get ready to play.”Music is the most important part of that. Richardson’s the self-proclaimed team deejay, even if not everyone agrees. If he’s not on the court he probably has a pair of headphones wrapped around his sporadic-swaggy-awesome-swagged-out-outrageous hair. His go-to artists are Future and Drake, but it seems like the list could go on.When asked if there was one song, above all others, that he has to listen to before games he didn’t miss a beat with his answer.“March Madness by Future,” he said, smiling wide once again.There’s hardly anything predictable about Richardson, which almost makes that choice hard to believe. But if you consider his performance Friday, and all he’s capable of as Syracuse moves further into the Tournament, it starts to feel just right. Comments ST. LOUIS — With 33 minutes left on the pregame countdown, the Syracuse managers chased down loose basketballs and the team jogged into the tunnel.But Malachi Richardson hung back, hellbent on making his last shot before heading to the locker room. After swishing a 3 from the top of the key, Richardson launched a half-court prayer that clanked off the backboard and fell to the Scottrade Center floor. The ball bounced back to him and he took a top-of-the-key 3 and, sure it was going in, started off the court.But it rimmed out and he had to take another. There was to be nothing left on the floor on Friday. Not before the game, not during it and certainly not after. Richardson gathered the ball again, sloppily dribbled between his legs and sank a corner 3.Then he nodded at the rim and reluctantly jogged toward the tunnel. When he came out of it some 20 minutes later, he played with the same mindset that kept him on the court well after his teammates exited for one final cool down:Take everything, and leave nothing behind.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text***Since the start of his freshman season, Malachi Richardson has been as stylish as he’s been precocious. Easy to watch and even easier to compliment. At first look a player feeding off the attention paid to Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije, but really an offensive weapon the Orange can’t live without.That was the case in 10th-seeded Syracuse’s (20-13, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) 70-51 Round of 64 win over seventh-seeded Dayton (25-8, 14-4 Atlantic 10), in which Richardson led all scorers with 21 points before fouling out with 1:54 left in the game. He became the first SU freshman to score 20 points in an NCAA Tournament game since Carmelo Anthony did so in the 2003 national championship game. If his dynamic scoring ability was being at all hidden by the Orange’s up-and-down season, it’s surely shining on the biggest stage college basketball has to offer.“Heck of an experience,” Richardson said, a smile spreading across his face, of playing in his first Tournament game. “I loved it.”MORE COVERAGEDayton collapses under pressure of Syracuse’s early second-half runSyracuse community reacts to NCAA Tournament win over DaytonSyracuse quiets doubters, puts 2014 Tournament loss in past with 70-51 win over Daytoncenter_img Published on March 18, 2016 at 5:39 pm Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesselast_img read more

Syracuse 3-point slump leads to offensive adjustments

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first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Joseph Girard III had driven, spun and faded away from North Carolina State defenders during Syracuse’s latest loss. He scored 30 points with Elijah Hughes hurt, making Feb. 11 Girard’s best collegiate performance.But, sitting in front of his locker postgame, Girard rued the misses. SU’s other shooters could relate. The Orange fell, 79-74, to NC State in the Carrier Dome, after a three-for-18 showing from 3. Each miss represented Syracuse’s current offensive limit.“We fought hard,” Girard said, “but if I made even two more open 3s? That’s six points and we would’ve won.”In recent weeks, opponents have adapted to the Orange’s 3-laden attack, SU players and coaches said. Defenders are more aggressive, challenging the trio of Girard, Hughes and leading-shooter Buddy Boeheim (84 3s). They’ve also doubled ball screens and hand-offs that establish space for the Orange.In SU’s last eight contests, it’s uncharacteristically converted 28.2% from 3. The drop-off didn’t correlate with a larger offensive issue. Three-point production has dipped steadily before cratering on Feb. 11 against the Wolfpack, and Syracuse’s (14-10, 7-6 Atlantic Coast) 16.7%-rate against NC State stuck out like a sore thumb.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textRoshan Fernandez | Asst. Digital EditorSyracuse converts 32.2% of its 3s in conference play (seventh-best in the ACC), but it hasn’t eclipsed that mark since Jan. 15. With three losses in four games pressuring their tournament chances, the Orange will need to find their mark, possibly without Hughes, at No. 8 Florida State. Though a top-15 defense, per KenPom, the Seminoles allow the third-most 3s in the conference.“Teams are going to keep that adjustment,” Buddy said. “It’s working. We gotta figure out how to do better.”Buddy and Girard slogged through their 18 attempts against the Wolfpack, and the rare open look still rimmed out. Quincy Guerrier shot zero 3s for the third-straight game in a career-high 37 minutes. He had a few opportunities but opted against them. Of the backup guards — Brycen Goodine and Howard Washington – only Goodine played four minutes. But neither have shot many from behind the arc this season as they’ve followed coach directives. SU’s relied on the Hughes-Buddy-Girard trio, and they’re the only ones consistently given a green light.While Buddy couldn’t establish a scoring rhythm through tighter defense, he facilitated. The ball hung near the elbow and corner, and on one possession Buddy shielded his defender from the ball and bounced a pass under the rim to Guerrier, who finished with 16. The offense pivoted inside by necessity.In its last four contests, SU has averaged 33 points in the paint. But after losing to Duke, Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said it’s “not enough.”“We’re not really making enough shots at the 3-point line,” Boeheim said, “and that’s something that’s important for us to win these kinds of games.”At the start of the calendar year, the Orange’s success was linked to their 3-point rate. They were 3-5 in games with fewer than 10 made 3s. But starting Jan. 11 against Virginia, they won five-straight. SU found different ways to win and adjusted well against lesser opponents. Three-point attempts came more from two-man games — a temporary reprieve run well by Hughes and Girard — or fast-break runs.In the half court, the pick-and-roll failed to create clean shots from behind the arc. Boeheim said defenses rushed SU shooters. Eventually, it caught up in the loss column. Syracuse hit just six deep balls when it lost to Duke despite 88 points overall. Then, Wake Forest threatened an upset with its match-up zone.SU’s shooters have shown glimmers of their old 3-point prowess. They’ve connected on the occasional tightly contested, crowd-popping heave before hitting more in succession. Buddy ended a scoring drought against Wake Forest by hitting a deep 3 with a hand in his face. Later in the frame, Syracuse went on a 14-0 run propelled by four 3s.After SU’s season opener, when it registered a then-low of five made 3s against Virginia, assistant coach Gerry McNamara instituted a circle-motion offense. It led to a boost in nonconference play. And with Hughes’ long-term status unclear, another strategic shift could key a turnaround.Down three against NC State in the second half, McNamara watched Girard bring the ball forward. Buddy ran down the right side of the court, and Marek Dolezaj filled the gap. As they crossed half court, Buddy and Girard simultaneously pointed toward Dolezaj. The forward then screened for Buddy, who caught a Girard pass for a 3. From the bench, McNamara stood up and fist bumped.“We can do it in multiple ways,” Girard said. “I just think if we shoot like we did before we can be dangerous.” Comments Published on February 12, 2020 at 11:26 pm Contact Nick: nialvare@syr.edu | @nick_a_alvarezlast_img read more