Greene Day!

The Syracuse University men's basketball team defeated the Fordham Rams on Friday night, raising their record to a perfect 3-0. Friday's contest presented the Orange with a final tune-up before heading to New York to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Preseason NIT Semis next Wednesday. A season high crowd of 21,180 were on hand to watch the home team trounce their Atlantic 10 counterpart.

Those in attendance caught a glimpse of the Orange's future…and it looked green.   As in highly touted freshman Donte Greene, who put on a show in the first half.   Coming out aggressive from the opening tip, Greene connected on 5 of his first 6 shots from the field over the game's first 9 minutes, en route to scoring 14 of Syracuse's first 19 points.   Greene was equally as active in other phases of the game, playing inspired defense, pushing the ball upcourt when the opportunity presented, and finding several open teammates for easy transition baskets while the game was still close.

Donte Greene shows off his smooth jumper

Fellow newcomers Rick Jackson, Antonio "Scoop" Jardine, and Kristof Ongenaet each got some early developmental playing time as Boeheim sought to experiment with different lineups.  

The Orange got into rhythm midway through the first half, extending the lead out to 30-21 at the 6:45 mark.   The run was highlighted by a help-side steal by Jonny Flynn that led to an impressive coast-to-coast drive that culminated in a thunderous dunk, demonstrating the 5-10 freshman's explosive athletic ability.   Arinze Onuaku drew a charge on the ensuing Fordham possession, forcing the Rams to call timeout in an attempt to quell the Syracuse momentum.

With the Orange taking better care of the ball than in the first two games, SU began to impose its preferred tempo on the game.   The Orange stretched the lead to 14 points after Eric Devendorf sank a pair of free throws and Flynn fed Jackson for a dunk.

Flynn was involved in another highlight reel play a few minutes later after throwing a fast break alley-oop dunk to Greene at the 1:05 mark that brought the house down.

After forcing a Fordham miss on the next possession, SU played for the final shot of the half.   Flynn orchestrated a perfect final possession—running the clock down, driving into the lane, collapsing the defense, and finding a wide open Jackson underneath for an old fashioned three point play.   The basket gave Jackson 9 points in the first half [on a perfect 4-4 shooting], enabling the Orange to take a 43-29 point lead into the locker room.

Syracuse finished the first half shooting 55% from the field [16 of 29], 80% from the free throw line [80%], and 50% from three point range [3 of 6].   More impressively, the inexperienced Orange players—who'd been exceedingly careless with the ball in the team's two previous contests—had only committed 5 turnovers by intermission.

The second began much the same way as the first half ended, with Syracuse scoring first on a driving Flynn layup.   But several careless defensive sequences resulted in a quick timeout from an irate Jim Boeheim, who used the "coaching opportunity" to admonish and refocus his team's lackadaisical play.

Greene's torrid play continued in the second half, when he first tied his career high of 18 points at the 16 minute mark, and later exceeded it after a putback layup and a deep three pointer gave him a new career high of 23 points at the 12:22 mark.   He would finish the game with 25 points, on 10/14 shooting [71%, to go along with 50% shooting from three point range].  

Unfortunately, Greene's exuberance on the offensive end was not matched by adequate intensity by the team on the defensive end, as Fordham used clutch three point shooting to keep the game within striking distance.   After a three point shot by the Rams cut the lead to 11 [57-46], Boeheim angrily called another timeout.   In what has become an unwelcome early-season recurring theme, the inexperienced Orange seem to follow every spectacular play with a defensive lapse, turnover, or miscue that forces Boeheim to reign them in.

The Orange stretched their lead back to 19 [71-52] at the 4:18 mark, and cruised down the stretch to an easy win.   Boeheim even managed to get walk-ons Ryan Cahak and Jake Presutti some playing time down the stretch. The crowd was treated to one final highlight reel play when Harris threw down a spectacular windmill jam—his first field goal of the game—that registered the game's final points.

The Orange were led by Greene, who finished the game with 25 points and 9 rebounds.   Also scoring in double figures were Devendorf, who finished the game with 17 points, and Arinze Onuaku, who finished the game with a workmanlike 12 point effort.   Jackson scored 9 points off of the bench, and Flynn registered 8 assists.

Devendorf takes it to the rack!

Final score:   Syracuse 80        Fordham 63

Next up:   Ohio State on November 21, 2007.

Player Assessments

Flynn continued his strong play at lead guard—pushing the ball on the fast break and distributing the ball with flair.   Flynn's game instincts and court awareness were on full display, as he orchestrated the offense with veteran precision [8 assists against zero turnovers].

Devendorf was quietly effective, shooting the ball well without forcing the action.   His patience during the team's first three games is a testimony to his added experience and maturity as a player.   In a game where the home team was clearly superior, he was content to allow both the game and scoring opportunities to come to him—shooting an efficient 55% from the field.

After an impressive two games to start the season, Paul Harris came back down to earth a bit tonight.   The versatile sophomore finished the game with only 6 points and 6 rebounds, and did not record his first field goal until the game's final minute. Still, it is difficult to fault Harris's team play; on a night when teammate Greene seemingly couldn't miss, Harris seemed willing to sublimate his offensive production.

Jim Boeheim has a few words with Paul Harris during SU's 80-63 victory over Fordham.

In a word, Greene was sensational. Offensively, he did it all—scoring from inside and out, registering double digit rebounds, and handling the ball more effectively than he had in previous games. Despite his inexperience, it is clear that Greene is a major, major offensive talent. Although the competition has been generally subpar athletically thus far, his rebounding to date has been better than anticipated.

Onuaku had a quiet game, but showed his offensive versatility on a whirling dervish hook shot in the lane on a 2nd half shot attempt. He scored in double figures for the third consecutive game, and added 6 rebounds. More importantly, he again avoided foul trouble.

Arinze Onuaku defends in the post.

Jackson put together another impressive outing, doing all of his damage in the 1 st half. Some players just have a knack for making plays, and Jackson definitively has a knack for when it comes to getting the ball into the basket. His 9 points were scored in a mere 11 minutes of playing time.

Jardine struggled for the third consecutive game, but compensated by showing consistent hustle. He registered his first points at the collegiate level, finishing with five. Even so, it seems like the game might be moving a bit too fast for him right now. The Orange desperately need him to settle down and get his sea legs, to add depth to an already thin backcourt rotation.

Ongenaet again showed that he has the athleticism to be a contributor at this level. It will be interesting to see what his distribution of minutes will be as the year progresses. The Orange[men] could certainly use the additional depth, rotation flexibility, and extra 5 fouls that Ongenaet would afford.

 


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