Preview MBB: Rutgers vs. Syracuse

The RU travels to Syracuse for a 7:00 tip-off Wednesday night at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse has a 12-5 record and has lost two Big East games in a row. Although RU is on a 4 game losing streak, they have played very well at times against top competition. Is it the start of a trend? Will it continue? It needs to if Rutgers is to capitalize on a big opportunity against the Orange.

The Scarlet has met the Orange 42 times since 1920 and has brought home a single victory from Syracuse, a one point 76-75 win in 1975, the year prior to RU’s magical run to a 31-2 season and their only appearance in the Final Four.  The last two games at the Dome have resulted in a pair of 2 point losses.

Syracuse is very talented but very, very young.  The suspension of senior Josh Wright coupled with an injury to top star Eric Devendorf, (the top scorer and best three point threat prior to his injury), will severely limit the Orange.  They have 7 reliable starters of which 4 are freshman and prone to freshman mistakes.  As a result, the starting guards will receive limited relief by mostly untested players and are forced to play long stretches.   


#10  - G - Jonny Flynn  (6’0” 185 FR) -  13.9ppg,  48.2% fg,  35.7% 3pt,  78.1% ft -  24 steals, good with the 3ptr

#33  - G – Scoop Jardine  ( 6’1” 195 FR) –  5.2ppg, 46.8% fg, 14.3% 3pt,  71.4% ft – started 4 in a row for Devendorf

#5    -  F -  Donte Greene  (6’11” 226 FR) -  18.9ppg, 45.8% fg, 39.8% 3pt,  75% ft – super frosh, does it all, 3pt guy too

#11  -  F – Paul Harris  (6’5”  228 SO) -  13.3ppg, 45.8% fg, 23.5% 3pt, 69.6% ft – big rebounder @ 9.3rpg

#21 - F/C – Arinze Onuaku  (6’9”  258 JR) – 13.8ppg, 67.4% fg, 0 3pt, 45.1% ft – big body, good positioning


#00 -  F – Rick Jackson   (6’9” 235 FR) -  4.5ppg

#12 -  F – Kristof Ongenaet  (6’8” 215 JR) – 3.1ppg

Coach Jim Boheim has been using 4 different guards for short periods of time, simply to offer an occasional break for the starters.


#23 -  G – Eric Devendorf  (6’4” 178 JR) – 17.0ppg, 47.6% fg, 40.7% 3pt, 74.3% ft – A key starter that has now missed 7 games in a row with an injury. A great 3pt and foul shooter, he has been sorely missed by the Orange – but won’t be by Rutgers.


#30 – Josh Wright, a senior star who has been suspended from the team since the 5th game of the year.  An egotistical player, many fans have welcomed his suspension and do not want him reinstated.

Syracuse is still very well coached.  They take high percentage shots, rely on good positioning  and work well as a team with a limited number of players. Flynn and Greene are credible 3 point threats that need to be guarded well.

Syracuse is excellent from the free throw line and will use this advantage to stay in every game.  To remain fresh, expect Syracuse to rely on more zone defense while guarding against foul trouble.  Rutgers has currently had trouble working against a full court press, but the Orange may need to limit any thoughts of a high risk, pressing defense.

Jaron Griffin has taken a huge step forward and can be a key contributor from here on out.  He needs to drive the basket and play tough in the paint, while hopefully drawing many fouls.  If he remains confident in his abilities, Rutgers becomes a dangerous team to play.  Hamady and Byron must limit their fouls against the ‘Cuse and play solid under the basket.  JR is JR and will play better with increased support from the team.  Pettis is growing and offers a nice relief option to the baseline.  If Chandler, Farmer, and Inman are hitting three pointers, Jaron will not feel pressured to take those shots, and will shoot when he “feels it”.  Mike Coburn and Courtney Nelson simply need to be steady with their decision making. When faced with a noisy, hostile crowd, consider it  a complement and use it to energize yourselves.

Rutgers has an opportunity here.  Play with confidence, play tough defense, look to draw fouls from the Orange while keeping Scarlet fouls to a minimum, and victory #2 can be brought back from Syracuse.

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