The Syracuse Orange (6-5) men’s basketball team has a quick turnaround as they welcome the Cornell Big Red (8-2) to the Carrier Dome tonight. The Orange looked strong on Monday night dispatching Brown so we’ll see if they can keep it up for a second straight win. Here’s what we’ll be looking for tonight:
Kevin: Defending the perimeter
There must be something in the air in Central New York as all three Division One teams love taking the 3. Cornell is attempting 29 3’s per game and hitting 11 of those attempts has them 10th in the country. Keller Boothby is hitting 57% on the season and the Syracuse defenders will have to find him when he’s on the floor. Based on what we’ve seen this season I expect the Orange to open up in their modified zone to close off on the perimeter shots.
Zeke: Continued emphasis on strong team-based defense
One of the key differences between watching the Orange before and after their 16-day COIVD-19 related layoff is their defense. On Monday night against Brown the Orange looked like a well-oiled machine on defense due to the increased communication players had with one and other while on the floor. Seeing Orange double up when necessary, scurrying across the floor to contest shots, and correctly switching assignments off screens were all welcome sites to see for Syracuse basketball fans. While Cornell is a step up from Brown in terms of the competition, expect to see this increased defensive effort carry over into tonight’s game for Syracuse.
Szuba: Get the defense set
Cornell plays at the fastest pace in the country on offense, averaging just 14.2 seconds before getting a shot off. One of the best ways to counter a zone defense is to beat it down the floor. Of course, this isn’t your father’s 2-3 zone defense, but Syracuse will need to get back down the floor and get its defense set against this run-and-gun Cornell team. It should make for a fun matchup as most zones usually require teams to take their time and bring a more methodic approach to their offensive attack. Syracuse won’t want to give up transition looks in this one and the Orange will have to make sure it doesn’t give up too many 3s in the halfcourt, as Kevin mentioned, to avoid a repeat of the Colgate game.
Christian: Another litmus test
So Syracuse should beat Cornell. This gives Syracuse another opportunity to work on the things that they’re not great at and improve on it before ACC play starts. The big thing Syracuse can work on against Cornell other than the three-point defense that Kevin already mentioned is rebounding. Cornell is winning the rebounding battle by six over its opponents this season. Kobe Dickson leads the way for the Big Red with 6.3 boards per game. It’s another opportunity for Syracuse to test itself in the rebounding department against a team that should provide a decent challenge in that area.