Sure, it’s Super Bowl weekend and everything, but with the men’s basketball team off, where are you going to get your Syracuse Orange fix from?
No worries, Syracuse lacrosse has you covered with three straight days of games in the JMA Dome for both the men and the women.
Big Syracuse Lacrosse weekend at the Dome! https://t.co/3xf689pddh— Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) February 8, 2023
The men will kick the weekend off with some Friday Night Lax as they look for revenge from last year’s loss against the Albany Great Danes, tonight at 6 PM on ACC Network Extra.
For our Orange, we’re all curious to see if the offense can come out and look a little more on the same page with each other. Can they play sharper than they did in game one by showing good ball movement with more regularity and finishing their shots better? On the flip side, can Will Mark and the defense come close to replicating what they did against Vermont?
But how about this Albany team, who’s playing their first game of the season tonight?
- All-time series: Syracuse, 17-3; teams have split last four games
- Last year’s game: L, 14-12 at Albany on April 7, 2022
- Albany last year: 5-10, 3-3 America East
- America East preseason coaches poll: Albany, T-2nd with UMBC
- Key returners: 4 of top 6 scorers from last year, led by Graydon Hogg (38 points), Jack Pucci (28 points), and Amos Whitcomb (26 points)
This is an Albany team that’s coming off a bad year, but comes into 2023 with a lot of returners, making for a more experienced group. They’ve also brought in a bunch of new contributors as both transfers and freshmen, so it looks like they’re also a deeper team this year.
Scott Marr, who’s going for his 200th career win in this one, always has his team playing with a ton of physicality and energy, and they love to go up against Syracuse.
What parts of this Albany team should we be paying particular attention to?
Albany was not a good offensive team last year. They only averaged just over 10 goals per game on the season, so naturally they put up 14 on SU’s defense.
Their leading point scorer last year was Graydon Hogg, who finished with 38 points (26G, 12A) on the entire season. That’s an incredibly low number for your team’s leading scorer, but Hogg is back, and Marr has raved about how he’s raised his game to a new level in the offseason. He had a huge game against the Orange last year, scoring four goals in the win.
There will also be a couple of new pieces to the offense that will help improve their overall quality, starting with Denver transfer and X attackman TJ Sheehan, who will be a big facilitator for them. Freshman Silas Richmond is another newcomer who will make an impact. Standing at 6’4”, he’s a big Canadian finisher who will be a difficult matchup.
Jack Pucci (28 points) and Amos Whitcomb (26 points) are the other leading returning scorers for this Albany team.
Ah the two-way middie. You just don’t see them as much as you used to. But Scott Marr might be trying to buck that trend, as reports are that he’s planning to keep his middies out there to play both ways and utilize their depth to give proper rest between shifts.
Thomas Decker (14 points) could be a top candidate to fit one of those roles, as could freshman Alex Pfeiffer and sophomore Jacob Moran (7 points). Decker’s another guy who had a big game against SU last year, scoring four points on a hat trick and an assist.
The idea of the two-way middies is an intriguing one to watch for strategy-wise for Gary Gait. If Marr is doing less substituting in the transition game, then Gait may have to as well in order to keep pace.
Coming into the Vermont match-up, I thought the biggest storyline was how Johnny Richiusa and the Orange FOGO unit would do against Tommy Burke, one of the best in the country from last season.
Richiusa had a solid day, doing just enough in going 7-of-16 to make sure Vermont didn’t dominate possession. The Canisius transfer took every face-off in a game that didn’t feature a lot of them due to the lack of scoring, but that may be a taller task in this game.
While Albany doesn’t have any individual that approaches the quality of Vermont’s Burke, they do utilize better depth at the position to their advantage. They have three guys on their roster to took face-offs for them last year, led by Regan Endres and his .528 win percentage in 269 FOs.
It will be interesting to see if Richiusa again takes every face-off for ‘Cuse in a game that I assume will feature more scoring, and where Albany might be rotating FOGOs to keep people fresh. If both those things happen, Gait may need to look down his bench and bring in Jack Fine or Gavin Gibbs to give Richiusa a rest.
Marr also likes to double-pole on face-offs, which is another different look that SU needs to be ready for.
A number of unknown variables heading into this game, but at least we know the boys are going to be looking good out there:
Some new buckets this weekend.#HHH x #LikeNoOther pic.twitter.com/uPrtZ7wzRs— Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) February 9, 2023