"I’ll probably get fired,’’ Ragonese said, "but it’s worth it.’’
After being bogged down in the half court against Temple, Indiana should look a lot more like the Hoosiers we love in this one. Syracuse isn't too fast-paced (64.8 possessions per game), but the Orange have athletes who like to get out and go whenever possible. Like Indiana, Syracuse has struggled with its half-court offense at times this season, according to those at nunesmagician.com, who have done some outstanding work in anticipation of the big game.
To beat the SU zone, the high post must be used via a big man, or by penetrating in and collapsing the defense. Additionally, look for Zeller to post up underneath the rim, which will actually work more as a way to shield the drive from the high post, or to simply occupy Moussa Keita and Rakeem Christmas and keep them from blocking shots.
"It’s pretty much every day," Smart said Wednesday when asked how often he thinks about the jumper that made him a hero in Bloomington and a villain in Syracuse. "Probably every other day something happens. I’ll go somewhere to eat, or when we travel, I check into the hotel and somebody sees the name tag on the bag and they’ll mention something about ‘The Shot’ then. Very seldom does a week go by without something that happens."
"A fallacy ... with respect to the zone is that people think that they're just kind of standing in an area and covering an area and don't work hard," Wisconsin assistant Gary Close told the Wisconsin State Journal last year before playing Syracuse in the NCAA tournament. "Real good zones work, and they're moving and anticipating and they're active, not unlike playing man-to-man defense. And this team has been doing it for a long time and it's why they're as good as they are."
"Indiana is going to be a real test for Syracuse’s zone defense. Indiana has shooters and it has Cody Zeller who can play in the low or high post. Syracuse can’t single out Zeller or sell out on the shooters. You have to defend the entire court.’’
One major challenge for opponents is that Syracuse’s 2-3 zone is not some sort of monolithic beast. It is always changing, from week to week and from game to game. The basic framework stays intact, but Boeheim makes endless adjustments based on the opposing personnel. Some coaches learn that the hard way.
Syracuse never really did show up the last time it played a game at this arena: The Orange lost their Big East regular-season finale three weeks ago against host Georgetown 61-39, their fewest points since December 1962 and fourth loss in five games. ''I can't remember that game,'' Boeheim deadpanned Wednesday, face straight and arms crossed. ''Just can't remember.''
"Bernie's a good guy. This whole thing has ruined his life. I have a hard time believing it's true," he said of the 2011 allegations by two former SU ball boys that Fine molested them decades earlier as minors. "I've known Bernie for 30 years. He recruited me when I was 17. For this thing to happen I think is just a travesty of justice," Mike Sheehey said. "He never did anything, in my opinion, but try to help kids."
Syracuse seeks revenge against Indiana in this Thursday's Sweet Sixteen matchup after a Keith Smart shot lifted the Hoosiers over the Orange in the 1987 National Championship.