Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim doesn't mince his words. Saturday was no different as his team prepares to face the 15th-seeded Middle Tennessee State on Sunday with a Sweet 16 birth on the line. The game will tip-off at 6:10 p.m. ET on TNT.
The winner will advance to Chicago to play either Utah or Gonzaga, while the loser goes home.
Here are three interesting things Boeheim said:
1. "We know [Middle Tennessee State]. It doesn't matter their name. We know as much about them as we would know about any team in the country. We've seen 10 or 15 different game tapes of them prior to this. We already had one assistant looking at their entire season, especially breaking down their zone offensive work, which is what we're concerned about."
Coach Boeheim had assistant coach Adrian Autry do a complete analysis of MTSU before the NCAA Tournament, while Gerry McNamara was responsible for Michigan State. Once the final buzzer sounded, the Orange began preparing for MTSU and already had a full scouting report thanks to Autry.
2. "[Malachi] can shoot the ball. He always has shot the ball. Like his mother says, Malachi can shoot the ball. If he was as tough as his mother he'd be really good, but that's another story. But he could always score. His weakness always was really putting the ball on the floor. And that's the one thing he's worked on this year with Gerry is the ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays."
We've continued to see Malachi get into the lane and get to the basket, which compliments his ability to shoot from deep. Against Dayton on Friday, the 6-foot-6 freshman went 8-of-9 from the charity stripe, while going 3-of-8 from behind the arc. He had a game-high 21 points -- two shy of his career high 23.
3. We need [Tyler Roberson] to [rebound]. That's why I was so disappointed with him at a coupe of different stages this season. And it's why -- and he knows this -- that's why what I said was right. And he deserved it, because he's letting himself down and the team down when he doesn't play like that. I mean, he's not going to get 18 rebounds every game, but he can't get two or four. We're not going to be successful with that."
It's no secret that the Orange is a better team when Roberson plays the way he did on Friday, and against Duke earlier this season (14 points, 20 rebounds). Syracuse is a completely different team when he's "plugged in." Trevor Cooney has repeatedly said he believes Roberson is a top 3 rebounder in the country, and his performance against Dayton proved that to be true.