The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (16-12, 9-8) hits the road looking to avoid a three-game losing streak when they face the Pittsburgh Panthers (19-8, 11-5) at a sold-out Petersen Events Center.
Here’s what we’re watching for tomorrow night:
Kevin: Tossed salads and scrambled eggs
Recently I can’t figure out Jim Boeheim’s bench rotation. After relying heavily on the starters to get through Florida State and NC State, Boeheim’s been forced to his bench, and he’s played some weird combinations. He’s tried Benny Williams and Maliq Brown together, then went to Qaudir Copeland early at Clemson. Justin Taylor has become the odd man out even while the Orange are struggling on offense. What will tomorrow bring? Three guards? Two centers? Feels like it’s just throwing stuff in a pot and seeing what works.
Mike: Let Judah Cook
Don’t look now, but Judah Mintz (16.0 PPG) is closing the gap on Joe Girard (16.8) for the team’s scoring leader. He’s tallied over 20 points in four of the last seven games and has noticeably improved his jump shot. JGIII is likewise the only member of the Orange to have more floor time than Mintz, who lately has been outpacing the senior in minutes. The way Coach Boeheim has been letting Judah ride, combined with suddenly sticking Copeland into the rotation, makes me think he knows the freshman is a one-and-done. If so, milk him for every second of every play you can down the stretch.
Christian: Caution to the Wind
This is kind of similar to Kevin’s point. Lineup selection is now going to be critical for Syracuse. It’s now abundantly clear that no matter who’s on the floor, the Orange have reached their defense ceiling. Granted, that ceiling isn’t very high, but that’s the reality of this year’s Syracuse squad. However, the Orange have more to show offensively than recent games have shown. We’ve seen a better offense in games earlier this year. If (more likely when) Syracuse finds itself trailing to Pitt, the way back into the game is through the offense, not the defense. Send out Chris Bell and Justin Taylor and starting letting it fly (within reason).
Szuba: Three-point defense
While the rest of the TNIAAM team makes sound points on the offense needing to carry this team, the defense can’t be as bad as it was against Duke and Clemson. Pittsburgh is a very good offensive team and takes over 44% of its total shots from beyond range. Syracuse gave up 13 threes to Pitt in the first meeting. Nelly Cummings’ eyes will be as wide as ever in this one.
What are you watching for in tomorrow night’s game?