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Syracuse vs. St. Bonaventure preview: Five things to watch

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The revenge game we’ve all been waiting for!

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After a week off to celebrate the holidays, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is back, and looking to pick up another win in the last non-conference game before ACC play begins. It’s been a rocky season to say the least for the Orange, but adding a win against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies would be a good way to get spirits turned more around as we head into the conference slate.

Syracuse fell to the Bonnies last season when the two sides met, so look for the Orange to try and get a little revenge against their fellow New York opponent.

How aggressive will Syracuse be on offense?

The Orange’s offense has held them back this year, but it came alive in the second half of their last game, as they put up 44 points in the final 20 minutes of play against the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Syracuse was able to generate some easy shots by attacking the rim, rather than settling for contested jumpers on the perimeter.

This team is so much more effective when they are attacking the lane, instead of dribbling out the shot clock on the perimeter. Getting players like Tyus Battle and Frank Howard driving downhill will not only give the two guards easier chances to score, but it’ll open up Elijah Hughes on the perimeter to knock down some threes.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Who will be the starting “center” for the Orange?

Syracuse changed things up in their starting five against the Red Wolves by inserting Marek Dolezaj into the center position for Paschal Chukwu. Chukwu had been struggling as of late, so the Orange went with the more versatile player in Dolezaj to man the middle of the zone. The experiment didn’t last long, as Paschal Chukwu showed more dominance when he was subbed in (13 rebounds and six of those were on the offensive end), so it’ll be interesting to see if coach Jim Boeheim keeps the same starting five against the Bonnies.

Can Frank Howard find his rhythm?

Ever since his return from injury, I have mentioned whether Frank Howard would have his breakout game in each contest. So far, the senior point guard has had one game where he scored in double figures, but he shot just 5-of-13 in that game (a home loss against Buffalo). Syracuse needs Howard to be the player he was last year if they want to reach their full potential, and with a full week off to regroup, Saturday is the perfect time for the 6’5” guard to begin a dominant run.

Containing Courtney Stockard

Courtney Stockard did a little bit of everything against the Orange last season when the two sides met, as he finished with seven points, five assists, and six rebounds in 34 minutes of play; today, Stockard is relied upon a lot more by the Bonnies, as he is their leading scorer with 17.7 points per game. Stockard is able to score from the perimeter and inside the lane, so locating him once he crosses half court will be crucial for Syracuse to create a new winning streak.

Oshae Brissett’s high post play

Good things seem to happen when Brissett touches the ball at the high post, but the Orange need to get him the ball even more around the free throw line. Brissett’s athleticism and size is best utilized at the high post, as he is able to create quickly off the bounce for himself and his teammates. Syracuse wants Brissett as close the rim as possible, as he is a better scorer around the rim — so why not start him at the high post more often? — when he’s there he can set up his teammates for easier scoring opportunities.