Tyler Lydon accepts that the average basketball fan might not understand what he does. A surface-level expectation for Lydon carrying the burdensome label of “Syracuse’s most talented player,” is to score, and score a lot.That’s OK to a certain extent, but the stalky 20-year-old is capable of so much more. Usually he serves as SU’s best defensive player on the court, stretching every fiber out of his massive wingspan to plug the Orange’s zone defense. He blocks more shots than anyone on the team.Those defensive skills complement an offensive arsenal reliable both behind the arc and at the rim. Even when his shot isn’t falling some nights, he’s no less capable of dominating the other end of the court.Lydon is a do-it-all player, but he can’t do it all at once.“I like to think I can affect the game in other ways than just scoring,” Lydon said before a practice last week. “I’m sure most people don’t really recognize that, because I don’t think the typical basketball fan really sees that.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhat they see are the headlines: Lydon named to All-ACC preseason team. Lydon earns spot on Wooden Award preseason Top 50 list. Lydon projected as late first-round NBA draft pick. Headlines bring hype, and hype brings monumental expectations to carry Syracuse (17-13, 9-8 Atlantic Coast) at all times. Especially through its last gasp for NCAA Tournament consideration.It doesn’t bother Lydon. He’s come to terms with his starring role after last year serving as a supporting cast member to Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney and Malachi Richardson. But as the external commotion ramps up — about his future, the Orange’s future and what more he needs to be doing — Lydon descends further into the shielded basketball world he’s created for himself.Only there, usually in the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center, can he be the perfectionist and temperamental being that he is. Everywhere else he’s left to block out the noise around him.“Honestly, I don’t even know if he knows about all those watch lists,” said Tim Lydon, Tyler’s father. “He doesn’t look at any of that stuff. He doesn’t read any articles about the team.“… He stays away from it, which I think is good for him.”Unlike many of his teammates, you won’t find Lydon anywhere near Twitter or Snapchat. He logged out of Twitter for the duration of the season, and he deleted Snapchat entirely. Instagram remains his only portal to the social media world, where he posts pictures of his teammates and his puppy, Boone.Otherwise, Lydon stays unplugged. This wasn’t the case last year, and he looks at it as a distraction. Now he’s completely out of sync with the NCAA Tournament projections seemingly updated by the hour. Not once has he glanced at a mock NBA Draft, most of which slot him as the 20th-25th selection in the first round.He doesn’t discuss his NBA prospects with anyone. The family’s inevitable conversation won’t take place until the season’s end, and even last year the discussion about Lydon’s future lasted a “couple minutes” at most.“He wasn’t ready,” Tim said. “Everybody knew that. I don’t think any of us thought he’d be ready to go in there and play with 270-pound forwards.”Lydon prepares for life after Syracuse by working solely toward his next game, a rematch against Georgia Tech that could tilt SU’s NCAA Tournament fate. He routinely starts practice before most of his teammates.Assistant coach Adrian Autry and a few team managers dole out contact on drills to improve his post play, and Lydon shoots upward of 100 3-pointers from different spots around the arc. Whatever the drill, he usually looks like he’s already gone through a full day’s practice before the actual one begins.Jessica Sheldon | Staff PhotographerHe quickly retreats to the locker room to swap out his sweat-drenched shirt for a fresh one and the process commences all over again.“He’s definitely one of those guys that expects to make every shot,” Autry said. “It’s one of those things where his preparation before practice is about that mindset.“You can really tell working with him before practice how focused he is and how intent he is on finishing the drill and finishing at a higher level.”If nothing else, it’s a guarantee Lydon will finish whatever drill he’s working on before practice. Whether or not he’s satisfied with his performance is an entirely different discussion. Like many other athletes of his caliber, Lydon demands an unrealistic quality of play out of himself.When he inevitably can’t reach that ceiling, the sophomore isn’t shy about letting his frustration be known. It could be something subtle, like a grunt when he lets go of a 3-pointer he knows isn’t going in. But more often the display is a little more pyrotechnic.Lydon’s fired balls at the stanchion below the basket, and when he’s really aggravated, he punts basketballs into the highest reaches of the Carrier Dome’s atmosphere — but only during practice. On one attempt, the ball crashed atop the portable bleachers along the sideline and trickled down the steps.Lydon only becomes so demonstrative in what he considers his safe space. There aren’t many of those left for him, so he doesn’t have a problem letting loose when no one’s looking.“For whatever reason,” Lydon said, “I feel like I should be able to do everything the right way. Obviously, that’s not realistic, it’s basketball.“Whenever I miss a shot I know I can make … it gets frustrating. At the same time, I think the funny part is I’ve gotten a lot better with (my temper).”This isn’t the Lydon that most Syracuse fans have come to see. What they see is a polished version, who doesn’t throw temper tantrums or get too low after poor performances. But don’t confuse his stoicism for lack of caring.Lydon knows how much he means as an individual to the program and fan base. Without him, there’s probably no NCAA Tournament run to hope for or NBA Draft that will be worth watching this year for SU fans. But Lydon needs to tune out the constant chatter about Syracuse, which is usually centered around him anyway.It’s the only way he can try to do it all.“There’s a lot of expectations that can be hard to uphold and follow through with,” Lydon said, “but I like those challenges. I like being someone that’s responsible for all that.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 2, 2017 at 2:38 am Contact Connor: email@example.com | @connorgrossman
Although the Beavers stormed out to a 10-point lead, the win wasn’t out of reach for the Trojans in the second half. The team chipped down the lead throughout the second, and a 3-pointer by Jonah Mathews secured a 1-point 56-55 lead with just under four minutes left to play. The 11-point swing was mainly fueled by Mathews’ accuracy, while the rest of the team struggled to score. After the loss, the Trojans are now 15-13 on the season, walking the line of a losing record in conference play with an 8-7 record in the Pac-12. A close loss to Oregon State, which is ranked second in the conference, wasn’t necessarily a poor result on paper, but the team failed to finish a game that they could have won, a theme throughout this season. For Enfield, the team’s up-and-down performance points primarily resulted from lack of leadership, especially after point guard Jordan McLaughlin graduated. After routing Oregon earlier in the week, the men’s basketball team fell to Oregon State 67-62 in the last home game of the season Saturday. Much of the Trojans’ difficulty came from an inability to finish open shots. Usually a team leader in scoring, junior Nick Rakocevic finished the game with only 4 points. A lone standout in the game was the performance of freshman Kevin Porter Jr., who posted his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds on the night. But the rest of the team struggled to complete shots, especially from long distance. “We were 6-for-25 [from 3-point range] when the game mattered,” Enfield said. “Our guys had open looks. You have to shoot better to beat a good team like Oregon State.” The loss was the last game at Galen Center for the senior class, but it was met by a scattered crowd, with only 3,590 fans in attendance. That number was the second-lowest crowd in the 13 years since Galen Center opened — only a handful more than the record-low of 3,552 from 2014. “If you look at championship-level teams, there’s great leadership,” Enfield said. “In the bigger picture, certain guys just need to be able to play with a more even temperament. Either you’re successful or you fail. Everybody fails. You need to grind it out and work hard and be a leader. That’s what great players do, and that’s what great teams have.” Senior forward Bennie Boatwright tries to shoot in a loss to Oregon State Saturday in the final home game of his collegiate career. (Ling Luo/Daily Trojan) The lack of intensity in the stands mirrored a lack of continuity on the court, as the Trojans shot 44 percent from the field. Enfield shook his head as he studied the stat sheet after the game, regretfully admitting that his team simply missed a lot of shots. For seniors Bennie Boatwright and Shaqquan Aaron, the final home game was an emotional moment, and making it a more difficult loss to handle. “It’s all good — it’s all part of basketball,” Boatwright said. “You win some, you lose some. Everybody in the Galen Center who’s supported me for the last four years, I’m extremely grateful.” Although this weekend marked the team’s last at Galen Center for the season, the Trojans have two more road trips to complete the regular season — one to Utah and one to Colorado. But first, they’ll have to head to Westwood to face crosstown rival UCLA on Thursday.