After falling to NC State on Wednesday night, The Syracuse Orange (17-9, 6-7) look to right the ship with a trip to Miami to take on the Hurricanes. Syracuse is in dire need of wins at this juncture and with plenty of top ACC dogs remaining on the schedule, opportunity knocks.
Should Syracuse pull off the upset in Coral Gables, it would be good for a Quadrant 1 (drink) win and frankly, would be the best win of the season given the ‘Canes are ranked No. 28 in RPI.
We reached out to our friends at The State of the U and liaised with Evan Hadrick to gather intel on Miami. As always, we’re back in Q&A form.
TNIAAM: So start by giving us a general synopsis as to how the Miami season has gone.
Evan Hadrick: Miami entered the season as a young talented team looking to challenge the top of the ACC and make a tournament run. They’re still young and talented, with the emphasis on young. The Canes can play with anyone, but they’re more susceptible to a let down than anyone. Still, Miami is on pace for a 20 win season and hopefully a tournament berth.
TNIAAM: What happened in the latest contest to Virginia?
EH: Virginia’s defense. The Canes could only muster 16 points in the first half, as Chris Lykes was the only player able to break through the Cavaliers. Miami played a solid game on the defensive end, but it’s nearly impossible to win when you only score 50 points.
TNIAAM: What does this team lose without Bruce Brown?
EH: Miami lost a steadying presence on the offensive end. Bruce was having an up and down season shooting this season, but he was Miami’s leading rebounder and passer. The rest of the backcourt has filled in nicely in his absence, but Bruce was greatly missed against Boston College and Virginia.
TNIAAM: Huge Chris Lykes fan here. Can you talk about what he brings to the table?
EH: It’s hard not to be a fan of his. Chris gives the Canes a instant change of pace and someone who can score from anywhere on the floor. His speed sometimes gets him into trouble, as he’ll occasionally dribble straight into a double team, but he’s been taking better care of the ball as the season has progressed.
TNIAAM: Speaking of, why does Miami play so much man with him in the game? Shouldn’t you look to go zone with Lykes in the game?
EH: Surprisingly, he has been a solid on-ball defender, especially above the 3 point line, and there have been very few instances where larger guards have backed him down to take advantage. He may have drawn the most offensive fouls on the team as well. If Miami goes to the zone with Lykes in the game, they would essentially nullify his ability to defend. Miami did try the zone against Virginia, and the Cavaliers had no trouble at all getting the ball to De’Andre Hunter at the foul line.
TNIAAM: What can we expect Miami to do against the 2-3 zone? Perhaps extended time for DJ?
EH: DJ will have to set the tone for the Canes offense by hitting from the outside to open up the middle of the zone. Once that happens, expect Anthony Lawrence II to show up at the foul line and pick apart the zone from the inside.
TNIAAM: What are the keys to breaking down Miami? What can Syracuse exploit?
EH: On defense, keep Miami out on the perimeter and contest 3’s. In the Canes’ losses, they’ve fallen into extended periods of dribble handoffs until 5 seconds left on the shot clock. That’s an easy way to take bad shots. On offense, Cuse needs to attack from the wings to lure Miami’s bigs off of their assignments. Miami often gets lost when switching on the inside.
TNIAAM: Lastly, who wins, why and what’s the final score?
EH: I believe Miami is due for a bounce-back after 2 straight subpar performances. Miami wins, 75-68.
Thanks, Evan. May the better team lose.
For anyone headed down to the game I hope to see you there! I’ll be making the trip to Miami so if you’re around feel free to say hello.
But what do you say, ‘Cuse nation? Leave your thoughts and general feelings of malaise in the comment section below.