Sunday, January 25, 2009

Breaking down Syracuse

Head Coach: Jim Boeheim (750-264 overall in 31 seasons)

Record: 17-3 overall, 5-2 in Big East

Last Game: Lost at Pittsburgh 78-60

Last Game versus Cards: Louisville won 61-50 on 2/18/08 in Freedom Hall

Starting Line up:

Jonny Flynn - guard - Sophomore - 6'0 185 #10
What can I say about Jonny Flynn that everyone doesn't already know. An explosive scorer, who can hurt you off the dribble as well as from the outside. Is an excellent ball handler and passer (6 assists a game, 3-1 assist to turnover ratio). Louisville will not face a better point guard this season and can not expect to shut Flynn completely down.

Andy Rautins - guard - Junior - 6'5 205 #1

Replaced Devendorf in the starting lineup after his (Devendorf) two game suspension and hasn't given it up since. Is a excellent shooter with a very quick release but does have the ability to put the ball on the floor, even though it isn't anywhere near his strongest part of the game. Averaging 3.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.3 steals a game. He does a little bit of everything.

Paul Harris - forward - Junior - 6'4 230 #11

He may listed at 6'4 but is 6'9 with his afro. Reminds me of former Metro Conference POY Clarence Weatherspoon (not as good of a post game though). Has put up six double doubles this season (13.6 points and 8.4 rebounds a game). Struggles putting the ball on the floor but has the ability to knock down a mid range jump shot.

Rick Jackson - forward - Sophomore -6'9 240 #00

A Hakeem Warrick style player who has been getting better as the season has gone on. Averaging 7.7 points a game, along with 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a game.

Arinze Onuaku - center - 6'9 275 #21

Leading the Nation in field goal percentage (70%). It's hard to say a 6'9 275 beast of a man can fall between the cracks but it is true. Onuaku gets overlooked on a team with tons of talent. Putting up 12.5 points per game to go along with his 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Only once this season has he ended a game with no offensive rebounds.

Breakdown: Since Devendorf's suspension, he has scored in double figures five times (out of seven games). He's averaged 15.3 points despite not starting in that span. With that kind of weapon coming off your bench makes the Orangemen very dangerous but Syracuse is coming off a murderous row like stretch in their schedule (Georgetown, Notre Dame and Pitt) coming to an end with this game hosting the Cards. Syracuse boasts a front line as good as anyone in the country, getting 33.8 points, 22.4 rebounds and 4.2 blocks from their starting front court a game. None of them (Harris, Jackson, and Onuaku) are very strong ball handlers or passers, apposed to Devendorf and Flynn who are both excellent ball handlers. Kris Joseph (6'7 220 Freshman) and Kristof Ongenaet (6'8 215 Senior) join Devendorf off the bench. Joseph had 10 points on the road earlier this season against Florida and is averaging 1.2 steals a game but has been struggling, like most Freshman do, in Big East play.

Prediction: Louisville has never won in the Carrier Dome but that was then and this is now. Syracuse is putting up 80 points a game as a team and shooting 50% from the field (34% from behind the arc). The Cards must keep the ball out of Jonny Flynn's hands as much as possible. As a team Syracuse is turning the ball over 15 time a game and Louisville must not allow the 'Cuse to set up their defense because the Cards will struggle to score. I have been waiting for a breakout game for Jerry Smith and this could be it. If Louisville loses the battle of tempo, Smith (along with the other guards) will get good looks from the outside, it will be up to them to knock them down. Basis basketball 101 tell you that the way to beat a 2-3 zone is get the ball to the high post. Earl Clark will mostly have that responsibility. He (Clark) must play more like the guy who is mad at the world and not the guy who makes choices like a kid who used to ride the short bus to school. I know how well Terrence (Williams) has played but if Louisville is going to beat Syracuse then Clark will have to play well.

Cards: 61

'Cuse: 68

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