St. Francis College, a small Catholic school in Brooklyn, is a member of the Northeast Conference, to which SU football opponent Wagner also belongs. The Terriers are 2-1 on the young season, one of those a surprising 66-62 overtime win at Miami - last year’s ACC regular season and tournament champion.
The Orange, of course, are 3-0 on the season and are coming off a fairly pedestrian 69-50 defeat of upstate New York neighbor Colgate on Friday.
I caught up with Jaden Daly, founder of the Daly Dose of Hoops blog, who also provides the play-by-play voice for the Terrier Sports Network. He was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about the Terriers before they visit the Carrier Dome.
Jeremy Ryan: St. Francis is led by 6'6" forward Jalen Cannon, who is averaging 14 points and 9 rebounds in three games. What sort of problems might he pose for Syracuse's defense?
Jaden Daly: Cannon may only be 6-6, but his wingspan allows him to go up and get rebounds that most players his size would be unable to pick up. The biggest problem the Syracuse defense will probably have with him is that St. Francis' guards will likely try to get him the ball in the first 10-15 seconds of the shot clock, especially if Syracuse's backcourt closes to the three-point line, so the Orange will need to react quickly in order to effectively neutralize him.
JR: The Terriers started off their season on a high note, defeating the Miami Hurricanes on the road. What were the keys to that victory for SFC?
JD: The Miami game was an example of St. Francis staying together as a team and not making too many mistakes. The Terriers are a strict man-to-man team, something head coach Glenn Braica picked up as an assistant to Norm Roberts at St. John's, and they will look to hold every team in the low-to-mid-sixties every game. The win over Miami was execution of the game plan at its finest, as was their follow-up win over Florida Atlantic.
JR: Guard Ben Mockford has by far the team lead in three-point makes and attempts. No one else is close. How much does SFC rely on the three-point shot? Or do they look to score in other ways?
JD: Mockford has become the leading outside shooter now that Stefan Perunicic graduated in 2012, and in those last two years, no one else usually takes threes because not many are as consistent from beyond the arc. St. Francis' second option from three was Travis Nichols, and he graduated last year. Look for the Terriers to try and pound the ball inside, especially against the zone, and even more so if Mockford starts out cold on his first long-range attempts.
JR: Aside from Cannon and Mockford, which Terrier should Syracuse fans keep an eye out for? Is there anyone on the interior that should be of concern?
JD: He's only played three games, but Wayne Martin has already established himself as the Terriers' second scoring option behind Cannon. A freshman forward from Brooklyn, Martin's 17 points and 8 rebounds were the biggest part of the win over Miami, and he followed it up with two solid efforts against Florida Atlantic and Dayton.
JR: Syracuse is likely to press and trap and use its athleticism to push the pace of a game. What sort of tempo does St. Francis favor?
JD: St. Francis is going to look to slow Syracuse down in the early going. If this game gets into a track meet, the Terriers will be unable to keep up after a few minutes. Glenn Braica's team is a methodical, grind-it-out bunch, kind of like the Wisconsin of the Northeast Conference. If they get into a position where they can hold Syracuse under 35 points in the first half, they will have a chance in the second, but it all depends on how much they can assert themselves in the opening minutes.
My thanks to Jaden for his help with this preview. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @DalyDoseOfHoops for news and notes on Big East and mid-major basketball in the New York City area.