Canisius, of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, has a 3-6 record (0-2 in conference) this season. The Golden Griffins' best win came via a ‘neutral court' victory over St. Bonaventure 68-66. The Griffins are led by guard Frank Turner, who averages 13.3 points and 2.9 assists per game. Center Chris Gadley checks in at 6'9", 320 lbs. and should provide a stiff test for Arinze Onuaku in the middle. Gadley averages a shade over twelve points and seven and a half rebounds per game for Canisius. The Griffins have no opponents in common with Syracuse so far this year and haven't played them since the 2006-07 season. Syracuse, at the time ranked number fourteen, scored an 81-71 road victory in that contest.
Canisius brings a 1-5 road record into Wednesday's contest and a team that has only topped seventy points twice this season. The offensively-deficient Griffins have also failed to top 52 points in four of their nine games this season. Their problems can be encapsulated by taking a look at a few team stats. The Griffins shoot less than 25 percent from downtown as a team and just over sixty percent from the charity stripe. Only one player on their team has an assist-to-turnover ratio greater than one and to top it all off, Canisius averages over twenty personal fouls per game, meaning the quicker, more athletic Orange will likely spend lots of time perfecting the art of the free throw in this game.
If Canisius is to have any chance of pulling the upset, they'll need to attack early and often, using Gadley and forward Greg Logins to establish the low post. They'll also need to up those shooting percentages (24% from 3, 39% from the floor), but that might be easier said than done. Syracuse will surely be putting a large emphasis on defense, as Coach Boeheim stuck with the zone through much of the Cleveland State game. This allowed numerous open three point looks, many of which fell down the stretch. This ultimately doomed the ‘Cuse on Monday, but should serve as their motivation and wake-up call.
Six Further Statistics, Tidbits and Thoughts
· The Chris Gadley – Arinze Onuaku battle in the low post will likely be the highlight of the night. If Arinze can use his strength and quickness to move through/around the bigger Gadley, it'll likely be a long night for the Griffins. If, however, Gadley can frustrate A.O. & Co. in the low post and get them into foul trouble, Canisius' chances of an improbable upset would increase from .1% to 1%.
· When's Andy Rautins gonna get his stroke back consistently for good? Andy finished just 1 for 3 at the free throw line in Monday's lost and put up donuts in the rest of the shooting columns on the stat sheet.
· Expect Syracuse to come out and play like an angry squad. They allowed eleven first half offensive boards to the Vikings on Monday and finished with nearly twenty shots less than Cleveland State overall in the game. Arinze and Rick Jackson will be out to prove they can still rebound with the best of ‘em.
· It would appear the Cleveland State game was just a blip on the radar and that Canisius lacks the athleticism and physical tools to hang around with Syracuse for much more than twenty minutes, but could this perhaps be a hangover from last week's judicial board ruling? This game and Saturday's tilt with Memphis will go a long ways toward answering that question.
· How will Boeheim use the zone scheme versus the man-to-man scheme in this contest? It's apparent that the coaches favor the zone while the players prefer the man-to-man (as it allows them to use the athletic gifts that God gave them). Will Boeheim stick with a predominantly zone defensive approach or will this loss encourage him to use a bit more man-to-man?
· If SU tops seventy points, they will win and improve to 10-1. The Golden Griffins are 0-3 this season in games where they surrender more than seventy points. Those three losses are also the last three games they've played coming into this affair, as they ride a three-game losing streak into the Dome.
Prediction: Syracuse 86, Canisius 59