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Syracuse men’s basketball: what to watch vs. Gonzaga

Syracuse looks to stay undefeated against Gonzaga all-time.

Gonzaga v Syracuse Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team returns to action to take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs in game five of the Maui Invitational. Syracuse fell to Tennessee in game one while Gonzaga lost to Purdue in game two.

This one officially tips off at 2:30 p.m. ET from the Stan Sheriff Center. It will be shown on ESPN2 and here’s what to watch:

Dom: Find a second scorer

The talk among Syracuse fans was the Orange’s lack of quality offense versus Tennessee, even with the Volunteers’ known reputation as one of the best defensive programs in the county. But obviously, Syracuse couldn’t really get any good scoring bursts going outside of Judah Mintz (in the second half), Chris Bell and Benny Williams (briefly). Gonzaga doesn’t boast the same defensive reputation as Tennessee, but someone from the Orange will have to step up to help get Syracuse to 70 points at the very least.

Kevin: Shot selection

The Orange aren’t a great outside shooting team so they shouldn’t be so quick to take long jumpers early in the clock. This team can win without being a high volume three-point shooting team but they’ve got to get back to moving in the half-court. Teams aren’t going to be able to keep Mintz and Starling out of the lane, but instead of waiting for a kick out, I’d like to see more players heading to the rim for passes or rebounds.

Szuba: Depth

These two head coaches want to use their bench differently. On short rest for Syracuse and even shorter rest for Gonzaga, how does the depth factor into this game? With Steele Venters out for the year, Mark Few is reliant on his top seven players. Adrian Autry wants to play nine guys. Gonzaga and Syracuse both ran out of steam in their first respective Maui games. How does the depth come into play down the stretch?

Mike: Ball go Bang

Kevin hammered home how the Orange don’t need to drain threes like Jim’s final few teams to win, and I agree. I’d like to see more physicality while driving to the basket, especially from J.J. and Judah. For whatever reason, they’ve been content with taking a lot of bad angle shots and long-range jumpers instead of making the extra move or two to get closer to the paint. That goes double for all the guys with size who should be clearing lanes for dunks instead of rotating on the wings.

Max: Endurance test

Syracuse and Gonzaga both run their offenses at an extremely fast pace. I’m curious to see which team has fresher legs, as both will be playing on back-to-back days for the first time this season. The Orange looked worn out by the end of yesterday’s game, so they’ll need an early spark against the Zags to keep their motor running. The good news is that Judah Mintz should be the freshest guard on the court for either squad after only playing 26 minutes against the Vols due to foul trouble.


What will you be watching for today?