Syracuse versus Seton Hall
Wednesday, March 5th, 7PM EST, ESPN2
The Orange suffered a devastating loss to archival Pitt on Saturday, after an improbable collapse over the final 3:49 of the game handed the win to the visiting Panthers. Was the loss to Pitt the straw that broke the camel's back on a disappointing season, or will the Orange bounce back against Seton Hall?
They say that adversity doesn't build character; it reveals it. In a season where nearly everything imaginable has gone wrong for the ‘Cuse, the latest loss to Pitt serves as a microcosm of the issues that have plagued the team all season long—namely, inexperience, poor execution, turnovers, and an inability to finish off opponents despite having them on the ropes. Amazingly, the Orange are not completely out of the NCAA tournament picture, and could solidify their "bubble" status with a win on Wednesday against Seton Hall. How will the Orange respond?
Meet the Pirates
Seton Hall enters Wednesday's game tied with Syracuse in the conference standings, with an identical 17-12 record. The Pirates have struggled this season under second year coach Bobby Gonzalez, dropping 6 of their last eight conference games.
Seton Hall's best player is versatile forward Brian Liang—a do-it-all swingman who excels in all facets of the game. Liang leads the team in scoring [19.1 per game] and total rebounds [6.9 per game], and is a reliable marksman from three point range [37% from behind the arc].
Sophomore point guard Eugene Harvey leads the team in assists [5.0 per game] and is second in scoring [13.8]. Although not much of a perimeter shooter himself, Harvey excels at setting up Liang and fellow shooters Jeremy Hazell and Jamar Nutter.
Hazell, a 6-5 freshman guard, does almost all of his damage from behind the three-point line, with 209 out of his 295 field goal attempts coming from that distance. He is third on the team in scoring [12.6], but a dangerous streak shooter who is capable of torching the zone defense if given time to shoot.
Nutter, a 6-2 senior guard, is another prolific shooter [41% from three point range]. He ranks fourth on the team in scoring [10.8 per game], but has been more active offensively in Seton Hall's last three games.
Rounding out Seton Hall's backcourt rotation is sophomore Larry Davis, a 6-3 slasher who struggles shooting the ball. Davis averages 6.1 points per game, in just over 28 minutes of play.
Big man John Garcia brings some beef to the Pirates' frontcourt [6-9, 265 pounds]. He averages lucky 7's—on both points and rebounds—converting over 61% of his field goal attempts.
Backing up Garcia is 6-11 freshman Mike Davis, a burly 255 pound pivot. Davis doesn't score much, but he can be an effective rebounder, where he uses his size effectively in the paint.
The final player comprising the Seton Hall rotation is Augustine Okosun, a mechanical big man who gives Gonzalez an extra 5 fouls to throw against the opposition. Okosun isn't much of a scorer, and only a marginally better on the glass.
It is impossible to predict what frame of mind the Orange will be in after Saturday's crushing home defeat. If the team has the character to quickly put that game in the past, focus on Wednesday's game against Seton Hall, and realize that there is still basketball left in the season to be played, then registering the team's 18 th win is possible. If the Orange come out and go through the motions, then a fourth consecutive loss is likely.
Syracuse has endured plenty of adversity this season; Wednesday's contest against Seton Hall will reveal their character.