Madison Square Garden should be filled with orange tonight as No.23 Syracuse battles California in the semifinals of the 2K Classic.
Both squads enter action 2 – 0, but Cal’s victories are a lot more convincing than SU’s. The Golden Bears have scored more than 90 points in their opening contests. Syracuse also took care of Kennesaw State and Hampton without much of a problem, but there’s plenty of room to grow. The Fizz provides the keys to a victory for the Orange.
Keep the 2-3 zone tight:
Cal has averaged 22 assists in its two games, which is best for 9th in the country. This means the Golden Bears know how to move the ball and find the open man. Again, SU has yet to be really tested in terms of constant movement in the zone. Jim Boeheim thinks the Orange has been solid defensively through two games, so that’s plus.
Continue to feed Rakeem Christmas in the post:
Rak showed the Orange faithful some promise with some nifty floaters and jump hooks in the Hampton victory this past Sunday. His confidence level is sky high because he understands an elevation in his play is how Syracuse can get to the next level.
Oh, Rak, stay out of foul trouble:
This goes for Chris McCulllough as well. SU can’t afford to have Rak on the bench as the team’s competition becomes a lot tougher. You can live with temporary shifts with McCullough playing the 5, but not for a big chunk of time in a 40 minute basketball game.
Michael Gbinije needs to be aggressive:
The former Duke transfer saw his first minutes of the season against Hampton. Gbinije is still adjusting to becoming an above-average sixth man for the Orange. His fade away jumper he made after he got fouled against the Pirates was a key bucket that sparked the crowd. Look for Gbinije to knock down more big buckets like that as the games get more intense.
Clear the way for Trevor Cooney:
The feisty swingman is off to a 3-9 start from behind the arc. Syracuse fans want to see Cooney attack more, too. His aggressive play on defense at the top of the zone can translate to his offensive game. Cooney can rack in fast break points and he can get to the basket. Hopefully as the season progresses we’ll see Cooney all over the floor as opposed to just behind the 3-point line.
Take advantage of familiar territory:
This season marks the 33rd straight year SU plays at least once in Madison Square Gardne. Over 167 total games played in the Garden, Syracuse is 93-74 overall, including 75-46 under Boeheim. Especially when its foe is from the west coast, Syracuse should dominate with fans in the seats.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen