The 2011-12 Syracuse men's basketball team continues to answer the call whenever a challenge arises, but Wednesday against Seton Hall is a matter of vengeance and getting off to a good start in the Big East.
Pope, who remains in the top 10 nationally in scoring, has the Hall confident early in the season. But his play has steadied the ship of a team that has not reached the Big Dance since 2006. Pope, who averages 20.3 points per game, is one of three Pirates who average at least 14 ppg. The scoring can come in bunches, and it has all season – as Seton Hall averages about 74 points per contest. Scoring in the top third in the country won't be much of an issue for Syracuse, but the balanced scoring may be.
Rebounding in the Rebounding Department
After the Tulane win, Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim was asked about where his team stands nas rebounders – and he did not hide the truth.
"We're not a great rebounding team," Boeheim said. "It is what it is."
Pope averages nearly 12 rebounds a game by himself, and the Pirates have out-rebounded their opponents by a combined 44 boards through the first 12 games. ‘Cuse has been outrebounded by much smaller opponents night in, night out.
Boeheim has said repeatedly that the 2-3 zone allows for the team to be rebounded effectively against, but the trend may become an Achilles' heel for the Orange.
Scoring, turnovers, depth, fouls and defense have not become major issues – but rebounding is overlooked because of the gaudy wins SU has put together.
Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome may prove different, though the Orange is ready to rebound from last season's loss to the Pirates.
"They left a sour taste in our mouths," C.J. Fair said.
Either way, the No. 1 team in America will have yet another big test on Wednesday – looking to hold the top spot for the longest time in several years in the process.