Facebook Twitter Google+ Kiara Lewis snatched the ball from Digna Strautmane and jab stepped toward the Albany defense. Six handoffs in Syracuse’s two-guard sequence had weaved the ball from wing to wing, reaching four players as the shot clock ticked down to 15. Lewis took two steps forward after receiving hers and pulled up from the foul line.It was the 8:14 mark of the third quarter last Saturday, and Syracuse was struggling to pull away from a nonconference opponent for the third-straight game. But as Lewis’ jump shot sunk through the net over Albany’s Khepera Stokes, the Orange’s lead extended to 15 and continued to increase as SU won by 22 points.Through the first three games of its season, Syracuse’s 77.2 points per game has turned into 68.7 through three games this year. But as opposed to relying on one or two scorers to accumulate the majority of points, the Orange have relied on variety and distribution. Against the Great Danes, 10 out of the 11 players who played for Syracuse scored a point.“Balance is balance and it’s hard to scout balance because you can’t leave players when you have threats on the floor,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said.As Syracuse enters its most challenging game of the season against No. 1 Oregon, spreading the ball around in sets will once again be a focal point. Hillsman has always subbed at a high rate — 123 times through three games, to be exact — but now more of his role players are starting to score. After only having two players average more than 10 points per game last season, Tiana Mangakahia and Miranda Drummond, the No. 20 Orange (3-0) have four through three games.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I think that losing Tiana kinda made us understand this pressure, that losing her meant we sucked,” sophomore Emily Engstler said. “So, we took our offense and started to divide it a little more evenly.”Eva Suppa | Digital Design EditorWith a roster that features three graduate transfers and three freshmen, nearly half of the Orange are new. Some returning players hinted that Hillsman introduced plays slower than in years past, but the 13-year head coach denied the claim.Engstler said she integrated her guard qualities again. Brooke Alexander needed to make the shots off the bench she’s subbed in to make. Amaya Finklea-Guity scans for open slivers in the paint to drop step in for a layup. As opposed to limiting themselves to one defined role on offense, they’ve begun to expand into more.“I think we have six or seven new players that we’re asserting throughout our team,” Hillsman said on Oct. 11. “It’s just one of those things. Get things in place, install your system, and play.”Through three games, Engstler has snagged rebounds and led Syracuse’s transition offense. Sometimes, that’s meant driving into the lane and finishing a layup. Other times, that’s meant pulling the ball back and scanning the court for Lewis.But in the Orange’s second game against Maryland Eastern Shore, when Lewis had seven assists and took on a role as more of a facilitator, Engstler and Strautmane emerged. With the clock winding down in the first quarter, Lewis pulled the ball out and waited for a final shot. Strautmane curled around a Finklea-Guity screen and sunk a 3-pointer before the buzzer. In the second half, she made four more.“If we can have four players getting 12, 13 points a game, get some 7, 5 points here, we’re going to be a good team,” Hillsman said on Nov. 7. “We’ll be up in the high-70s, 80s like we want to score.”With the Orange in their final possession against the Great Danes and a win already secured, Alexander drove right and rose through contact from Albany’s Helene Haegerstrand. Alexander turned her back and flung a shot over her shoulder, falling onto the court as it banked off the backboard and in.From the Syracuse bench, Alisha Lewis was the first one to jump into the air, grinning as Alexander was helped up. Three seats down, Lewis did the same, throwing a towel into the air.Heading into the season, Lewis was primed to inherit Mangakahia’s role as the dominant scorer. At times, she has. But it’s been the other dozen Syracuse players, complementing her drive-and-kicks by converting open 3-pointers from the wing.“It’s never like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re going to score and you’re not going to score,’” Strautmane said. “It’s always going to be like someone’s got to step up and somebody’s gonna pass more and somebody’s gonna drive more, somebody’s gonna shoot more.”Asst. sports editor Danny Emerman and staff writer David Schneidman contributed reporting to this story. Comments Published on November 17, 2019 at 10:14 pm Contact Andrew: firstname.lastname@example.org | @CraneAndrew
The Western Conference @NBAAllStar Reserve Pool!@aldridge_12 @AntDavis23Nikola Jokic@Dame_Lillard @KlayThompson @KarlTowns @russwest44 #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/BHu2JnxiHg— NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2019The Eastern Conference @NBAAllStar Reserve Pool!@RealDealBeal23 @blakegriffin23 @Klow7 @Khris22m @VicOladipo @BenSimmons25 @NikolaVucevic #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/LfwuSBvA1P— NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2019But, as always, there were a few surprises while some notable players were left off the rosters.Here are the biggest snubs and the surprises to make the 2019 NBA All-Star Game rosters. Related News NBA free agency rumors: Clippers, Nets expected to pursue Jimmy Butler this offseason NBA All-Star Game 2019: Ben Simmons, Anthony Davis lead list of reserves SnubsD’Angelo Russell / Jimmy ButlerRussell has put the Nets in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014-15 and Butler has elevated the 76ers into championship contention.Both of these players could have been in the game and one of them will probably end up there.Pacers star Victor Oladipo was named a reserve Thursday. However, he suffered a season-ending leg injury last week and will be unable to participate. Russell and Butler are the leading candidates to replace him.Tobias HarrisThe eight-year veteran is having his best season and is undoubtedly the Clippers’ go-to scorer.He’s averaging 21.2 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting 43.3 percent from 3-point range in 2018-19. All of those are career highs.Los Angeles has exceeded expectations this season and is fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Harris deserved an All-Star spot.Luka DoncicDoncic has had a fantastic season and many believed he’d end up in the game.The third-overall pick in the 2018 draft is top five amongst rookies in almost every statistical offensive category. He’s registered 20.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.The Mavericks are just 23-27 but are much improved this season. Doncic is the main reason why.SurpriseKhris MiddletonMiddleton has certainly been good this season. He’s averaging 17.3 points and 4.2 assists in 31.1 minutes per game while shooting 37.6 percent from 3-point range. The Bucks are also one of the best teams in the NBA and enter play Thursday in first place of the Eastern Conference standings with a 36-13 record. They deserve to be rewarded for their success.Middleton, however, is clearly Milwaukee’s secondary option behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and he has also had better statistical seasons. He tallied 20.1 points per game in 2017-18 and has knocked down more than 40 percent of his 3-pointers three different times during his seven-year career.While he is deserving of a spot, a case could definitely be made that Russell or Butler should be on the team over Middleton.Klay ThompsonThompson is one of the best shooters of all time and a major reason for the Warriors’ success since 2014-15. But, he isn’t putting up his typical numbers from 3-point range this season. The complete list of players competing in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was released Thursday.The Magic’s Nikola Vucevic and Denver’s Nikola Jokic will make their first appearances in the game while Blake Griffin became an All-Star for the first time since 2014-15. Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Pelicans star Anthony Davis were also obvious reserve selections. Thompson struggled to open the year and while he has rebounded, he’s shooting 37.9 percent from behind the arc, his worst percentage in his eight-year career. He’s also connected on 46.2 percent of his total shots, his worst field-goal percentage since 2013-14.The 2019 game will be Thompson’s fifth All-Star appearance. He is averaging 21.7 points, but Harris or Doncic may have been more deserving of a selection this season.The teams will be picked by captains LeBron James and Antetokounmpo at 8 p.m. ET Feb. 7 on TNT. This will be the first year the event is televised. The game will be played Feb. 17 in Charlotte, N.C.