MLAX : Daddio still searching for consistent success at the faceoff X in frustrating season

first_img Published on March 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_iseman Facebook Twitter Google+ Chris Daddio receives a clear-cut, on-the-spot evaluation of how he’s performing in every game. If he’s playing well, he stays in. If he’s not, he’s going to be doing a lot of standing on the sideline.With every faceoff Daddio takes, he knows he has the chance to earn more opportunities at the X. Lately, that number hasn’t been nearly where he’d like it to be.‘In faceoffs, if you keep winning or you’re doing well, there’s no reason for the coach to take you out,’ Daddio said. ‘But if they do take you out, then obviously you’re thinking that you did something wrong.’It’s been a frustrating season for Daddio, Syracuse’s primary faceoff specialist, as the sophomore’s year has been marred by inconsistency. Daddio always takes the game’s opening faceoff, and from there, the number of draws he wins determines how much time he sees on the field. The Orange’s opponents, though, have had an easy year at the X.Syracuse ranked 45th out of 61 teams in faceoff winning percentage at only 45.6 percent through March 18. Daddio is 42nd in the nation in percentage of faceoff wins, winning 49.4 percent of the time during that span. Possessions for Syracuse are key, and too often, it has had to force plays rather than allow them to unfold because SU’s possessions are so limited.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt’s been a constant struggle, and it’s one the No. 8 Orange (4-2, 2-0 Big East) will continue to focus on when it takes on No. 15 Villanova (4-3, 0-0) in the Carrier Dome at 2 p.m on Sunday. The Wildcats’ faceoff specialist Thomas Croonquist has won 59.1 percent of his faceoffs this season, a major part of Villanova’s success so far.And SU’s second faceoff specialist, Ricky Buhr, knows it.‘They’re going to be a team that’s going to be stalling the ball a lot,’ Buhr said. ‘They’ve stalled the ball a lot this year, just like they did last year. Last year, we felt faceoffs were weak against them.’Syracuse won only 5-of-13 faceoffs, and in a sloppy affair for both sides, the Orange barely squeaked by the Wildcats with a 5-4 win. Buhr said he wants to see a high-scoring game this year, something the Orange’s run-and-gun offense can accomplish if it the team wins enough faceoffs.It starts with Daddio, who has endured a rough start to the season for the Orange.Especially considering that coming into the season, he expected better of himself. And now, he’s left trying to correct mistakes he knows shouldn’t be happening. As a result, Syracuse’s offense is struggling due to a limited number of scoring chances.‘The more the offense gets the ball from the faceoff guys, the more they feel comfortable with the ball on offense,’ Daddio said. ‘If they just get the ball once in a while, they’re going to be frantic, running around or because they don’t have the ball that often and they need to score.’Daddio’s been at both extremes at the X this season. He’s been dominant at times, and completely overwhelmed at others.In Syracuse’s 10-9 win over Army on Feb. 26, the Orange won 16-of-22 faceoffs. Daddio took every single one in his best performance of the year.After that game, head coach John Desko spoke glowingly of his faceoff specialists, especially Daddio. At that point, it seemed faceoffs weren’t going to be the enigma many expected.‘Everybody talked about our faceoffs coming into the year,’ Desko said, ‘but the guys we used last year were freshmen for the most part and they’ve been getting better through practice and their experiences.’But that success was short-lived.Daddio and the Orange were at the other end of the extreme in its 14-10 loss to Virginia earlier this month. In a debilitating performance, Daddio won only 4-of-15 draws, and as a team SU won a paltry sum of 8-of-28 faceoffs.That loss to the No. 1 Cavaliers still stings for Daddio. On national television, in arguably the biggest game this season, Daddio failed to show up at the X.‘That game I definitely got the most frustrated I’ve been all year,’ Daddio said, ‘especially because it was such a big game for us. It meant so much, and the first time playing on ESPN, I was pretty nervous.’Villanova is a strong team and will employ a slow tempo if it’s winning possessions. If the Wildcats win consistently at the X, Daddio knows it’ll be nearly identical to last season’s game.Said Daddio: ‘If they do that the whole game, they’re going to keep it a lot closer than it should be.’[email protected]center_img Commentslast_img read more