Orange look to end skid against ‘Nova

Daniel Madden

The Syracuse men’s basketball team looked poised to take prime position in the Big East after beating Notre Dame on Jan. 17. However, the team has since lost three as of Sunday and has fallen to seventh place in the conference. The Orange is now 17-5 overall and 5-4 in the Big East. Syracuse is coming off a disappointing loss to Providence where turnovers plagued the team. But a Jim Boeheim-coached team is always dangerous and with good guards, Syracuse has the ability to reverse its fortunes.

Opponent Strengths

Good guard-play characterizes the Orange. Sophomore Jonny Flynn came off a promising freshman year and has not disappointed so far. The point guard leads the team in scoring and assists. Junior guard Eric Devendorf, who sat out most of last season due to injury, has come on strong. Against Providence, Flynn scored a career-high 35 points, and Devendorf added a season-high 27 points.

Syracuse also boasts one the best coaches in the country. Boehiem ranks among the top with 788 coaching victories entering this week. Among active coaches, he trails only Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Calhoun on the all-time list.

Opponent Weaknesses

While Flynn and Devendorf provide strong scoring numbers, they also commit costly turnovers. Both players average over three per game, and Devendorf had nine against Providence. As a team, Syracuse turned the ball over 16 times in its three consecutive losses.

Rebounding has also been a concern for the Orange. Louisville grabbed 21 offensive rebounds against Syracuse and beat them by 10. The lack of defensive rebounding has hindered its transition game as well. The Orange also struggles against good defensive teams. Syracuse scored only 60 points against Pittsburgh and 57 against Louisville.

Who to Watch

The focal point of the Syracuse offense all season has been its point guard Flynn. The sophomore leads the Orange in both points and assists this season. With the injury to junior guard Andy Rautins, Flynn will be asked to do even more now than he was doing before. Although he scored 35 points against Providence, it was not enough for his team to win If the Orange is going to find success against the Wildcats, Flynn must dominate in every aspect of the game. If not, Syracuse will dig itself a deeper hole within the Big East.

What to Watch For

After playing three times last year, both teams are familiar with each other. With Donte’ Greene gone to the NBA, Flynn controls the offense for the Orange.

A matchup between him and Scottie Reynolds should be worth watching especially as both look for their stroke. In Villanova’s win over Syracuse in the Big East tournament last year, Reynolds had 22 points to Flynn’s 16.

Junior forward Paul Harris also played well against Villanova in the past, especially with his 28 points at the Wachovia Center in their second matchup. With so many familar faces, it should be an intense battle.

Villanova 75, Syracuse 70