After avoiding what would’ve been their first set of consecutive losses this season with their comeback win over Miami, Louisville travels to the Carrier Dome to take on old Big East rival Syracuse tonight at 7pm on ESPN.
Last year, Syracuse endured a suspension for Jim Boeheim, made the tournament on the bubble, and to top it all off, went to the Final Four against all odds. Many pieces are missing from that Final Four team, so many people expected Syracuse to take a step back this year. While they did at the beginning, and they’re still not where they want to be, the Orange have wins over Florida State and Virginia and sit at 8-5 in ACC play. They aren’t world beaters or favorites for the tournament (if they make it), but the Orange certainly have statements they need to make to impress the tournament committee, a win against the top-10 Cards tonight would do just that.
Syracuse is led by senior guard Andrew White III with 17.7 PPG, sophomore forward Tyler Lydon anchors the frontcourt load with 13.3 PPG and 7.8 RPG, while senior guard John Gillion facilitates the offense with 5.3 APG (ranks 4th in the ACC). Syracuse is a solid offensive team at 76.7 PPG compared to Louisville’s 77.2 PPG. However, their defense isn’t all that great (70.0 PPGA compared to Louisville’s 62.8 PPGA). Jim Boeheim’s tenure at Syracuse has been the era of the unbeatable, long, athletic 2-3 zone, but this team isn’t as defensively efficient as past teams under Boeheim.
While this is a rivalry game and these games are more unpredictable than others, I don’t see Louisville having trouble tonight. This season, when Louisville has gone up against a team whose focus is offense, Louisville has had the upper hand. Tonight will be no different. Q will continue to settle in, Deng and Mangok will build on their comeback performances, and Donovan will continue to shine tonight.
Louisville 81-Syracuse 68.
You know, we played well. I thought Quentin Snider played outstanding. It wasn’t his play, it was Wayne Blackshear not getting in foul trouble. We had to go substitute out of weakness rather than strength. But I thought we moved the ball great in the first half, did a lot of really good things. We missed a lot of shots that would have kept us in the game in the second half, wide-open, we had two in the corner.
But what’s stopping us from being a very good basketball team is the last three years we’ve been one of the most feared defensive teams in the nation, with steals, turnovers, and we’ve just been void of both. I’m going to put out there on Kenny (Klein’s) web site to try and motivate our guys — who’s getting the deflections. Again, we’re falling short of it, so I’m using you to motivate my players.
Coach Pitino comes on around 1:40:30 of the teleconference.
Well it’s (the snow) pretty bad for Louisville, KY. The only way we get rid of snow here is the sun coming out so we don’t handle it as well as Syracuse, where we’re heading. We know Syracuse has always been a tough place to play for anybody. They’re playing extremely competitively right now. Three of their players are averaging 38 or 39 minutes right now. So their best players are on the court, and we have to be ready for a very active 2-3 zone.
On top of being the best basketball league in America the ACC will without a doubt have the best coaches. Part of this is do to the 4 Hall of Fame coaches at the top Krzyzewski (Duke), Pitino (Louisville), Williams (UNC) and Boeheim (Syracuse). The ACC Digital Network recently got all four guys together to do a few shorts they called “The Hall of Famers”:
By Justin Renck:
WOW! Well that was an exciting game, to say the least. In the first half, it looked like Syracuse could not miss a shot. They even banked in a 3! Even when we got down 16, I wasn’t worried. However, I did think “Well, it is just destiny for Syracuse to win this last game.” But still, I know what kind of team we have. We go on 6-0 and 8-0 runs all the time. It would just take one of those to get some momentum back and make it a game again, and that’s what happened. This team never quit, they never do at all. So I never quit believing in them, ever.
By Justin Renck:
The Louisville Cardinals are heading to the ACC soon. That is great for football, we all know that. It is even great for some of our other sports. For basketball, it means we get to play Duke and North Carolina every year, and of course Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh as well. So basketball will be very exciting as well. However, let’s enjoy tonight. In fact, let’s enjoy this whole day while the anticipation builds up. Our team is playing in a very special game tonight, and I am not sure we really know how big it is right now. It may take some time and we will look back and say “Wow, we were apart of that final Big East Tournament game.”