The Syracuse Orange (5-5) men’s basketball team returns to action tonight when the Brown Bears (8-5) visit the Dome for the first time since 1986. Can Syracuse use their Ivy League warm-ups to launch a strong run in ACC play? Here’s what we’ll be looking for tonight:
Kevin: Locating shooters
Brown’s only shooting 32% as a team from 3 this season but both King Lilly Jr and Kimo Ferrari are above 40% from deep. Both guards typically come off the bench but facing the Syracuse zone they could see more minutes. We’ll see if the practices leading up to tonight’s game have improved the Orange rotations. With a game on Wednesday it would be good if Syracuse can control the game and spread out the minutes among the eight-man rotation.
Zeke: Efficient Syracuse shooting could be the difference maker
The Brown Bears have been pests on the defensive side of the ball forcing 16.5 turnovers a game this season. Their tough defense could lead to some play making troubles for Syracuse, but the Orange’s three-point shooting efficiency can overpower Brown’s intense defense and can be the difference maker. Syracuse has made 83 out of 231 three pointers through 10 games played, a 35.9% clip. Brown on the other hand has shot 32.1 % from beyond the arc and averages 72.8 points per game. While Syracuse does only average 75.8 points per game, the Orange’s shooting beyond the arc should be be a major theme in this game, and would help add a W back into the win column if they play to expectations tonight.
Szuba: Rest or rust?
As we often do in sports, it’s time to ask the lazy question of whether the time off for these clubs will result in a well-rested effort or a rusty one with careless mistakes. Brown hasn’t played since its Dec. 10 loss to Vermont while the Orange haven’t had a game since the Georgetown game on Dec. 11. Syracuse looked to be in desperate need of some time off after collapsing in that second half loss to Hoyas, finalizing the arduous portion of the non-conference schedule. Of course, 14 out of 20 players tested positive since that time, including four starters. Will they come out rusty or has the time off allowed them to recharge?
Christian: Walk before you run
I bet this is a Syracuse team that is eager to get on the basketball court and show that it hasn’t lost a step due to the COVID break. However, I would exercise caution against that approach. The Orange want to show that the time off was good for rest and not cause for rust, as James said above. But I fear in their eagerness to show that, Syracuse might move too fast for their own good. Taking some time to find the right shot and to not over-rotate on defense should help Syracuse ease into the game and get back into the swing of things more easily.