The buzzword for Syracuse is balance. A pair of forwards and a guard tandem all average in double figures and give the Orangemen multiple options on offense.
The front line is spurred by likely rookie of the year Carmelo Anthony. Anthony (20.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg) has had an outstanding season that has him competing for the Wooden Award as a freshman. Anthony combines strong inside moves with a soft shooting touch which makes him difficult to contain.
Teamed with Anthony are sophomore Hakim Warrick (16.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg) and big center Craig Forth (5.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg). Warrick and Forth both make the most of their shots, as each shoots better than 55% from the floor. Junior Jeremy McNeil (4.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 55 blocks) provides a physical backup presence.
The backcourt features senior Kueth Duany (12.4 ppg) and three point specialist Gerry McNamara (14.8 ppg, 36.8% on 3-pointers). McNamara runs the show from the point as a freshman, and does an outstanding job on both ends of the court. He leads the team with 46 steals.
Solid backup help is available in the form of Billy Edelin, who has played in the Orangemen's last six games after returning from NCAA suspension, and sophomore swingman Josh Pace.
While precocious freshmen such as Carmelo Anthony and Billy Edelin get a lot of the spotlight, senior Kueth Duany toils in the background.
|Sat 2/8 4:00 p.m.|
WVU 12-7, 3-4
SU 15-3, 6-2
Cuse leads 23-15
ESPN Full Court
WVU - 84
SU - 19
|Line: SU -4|
Schifino will have a big challenge trying to penetrate Duany's side of the zone offensively. Duany's long arms, mobility, and three inch height advantage will pose problems for Schifino's drives to the basket.
On defense, Drew will have to constantly be aware of the savvy senior. Duany finds holes in defenses to spot up for open shots, and can take the ball to the basket if the opportunity presents itself.
Duany is not the best scorer or rebounder or passer on the Syracuse team. He is, however, a jack of all trades that provides a stabilizing influence for his talented teammates. Along the way, he scores, grabs key rebounds, defends and plays an excellent floor game. Schifino's challenge will be to keep Duany from making those key plays that have put the Orangemen over the top in most of their contests this year.
One of the keys to Syracuse is their consistency. The Orangemen have started the same five players in all 18 games this year, and have established a solid eight-man rotation since Billy Edelin returned from his 12 game NCAA suspension. The cohesion developed from having the same players on the floot for evey game shows in the crisp execution that the Orangemen exhibit on both ends of the floor.
Of course, WVU isn't far behind in that category. The Mountaineers have used only two different starting lineup, and have developed a nice rhythm and flow of their own. The team that is able to disrupt what the other team does best is likely to come out on top in this heated battle.
WVU must get Syracuse out of their comfort zone - that is, the 2-3 zone that the Orangemen employ. The Mountaineers need to hit a few three point shots early on and force Syracuse to either extend their zone or play a different defense. Syracuse has played some man to man this year, but the 2-3 remains as their best weapon.
Offensively, the Mountaineers must keep Syracuse away from the rim. The Orangemen only have a trio of players (Anthony, McNamara and Duany) who are three point shooters. Syracuse excels at breaking down a defense and getting a good shot -- WVU must play solid defense and force the Orangemen to chuck it from the cheap seats.
Syracuse has only one senior on this year's roster. Of the six juniors on the roster, only Jeremy McNeil plays any appreciable minutes.
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Under Jim Boeheim, Syracuse has gone to the NCAA or NIT tournaments every year except one. You may not like him, but the man can recruit and coach.
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West Virginia's freshmen have played 2,053 of the team's total of 3,825 minutes this year. think about that for a moment. Fifty-three percent of the minutes in WVU's games this year have been played by freshmen. That's the makings of a 4-15 record, not 12-7. Amazing.