Syracuse will cap off the fall semester in Madison Square Garden to take on St. John’s tomorrow for a Sunday matinee at Madison Square Garden. While the crowd is expected to wear more orange shirts than red, the Red Storm is looking to upset the no. 2 team in the nation, although the team has not beaten the Orange in seven years. This will be Syracuse’s first true road test of the season.
Syracuse has been playing great basketball as of late. The team has earned their high ranking, but have raised a few questions in the paint.
Offensive Production from the Paint
DaJuan Coleman and Rakeem Christmas were two of the biggest question marks coming into the season. While the mystery of Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney seems solved, the big men are still inconsistent in terms of production and minutes. Coleman was only able to muster up four points and two rebounds in 14 minutes against Indiana, but scored 13 points and grabbed 10 boards against Binghamton for a double-double. He has shown flashes of what he can do with the ball in his hands. Christmas has not had a double-digit rebound game once this year and only has one game in which he scored double-digit points. The issue is that both players are not even in the top two in rebounds for the team. Even if they have bad days offensively, they have to make sure they grab the rebounds down low. They allowed the Bearcats to pick off 13 offensive rebounds.
Defensive Presence Down Low
St. John’s enters the game with a prime shot blocker in Chris Obekpa. He is averaging 5.5 blocks per game and could become a major factor in the paint. This is an area where the Orange has to utilize their size. Bringing in Baye Moussa-Keita would give Syracuse a height advantage, while DaJuan Coleman can muscle him around and keep him occupied to avoid blocked shots. Big men have had recent success in the interior of the 2-3 zone. Syracuse will soon face stiffer competition, including hosting no. 10 Villanova on December 28. With a player like Daniel Ochefu, who is averaging 6.1 rebounds a game for the Wildcats, the Orange must figure out their situation down low.
Syracuse will storm into Madison Square Garden with a lot of momentum following a 9-0 start. It will be another chapter in the battle of “New York’s College Team,” as the ‘Cuse look to move to 10-0.
Posted by: Zephan Mayell