Syracuse has taken over Madison Square Garden in earlier visits to play St. John’s. Their Orange-clad fans cheer like it’s a home game, the Red Storm faithful are drowned out – an embarrassing scene for coaches, players, fans, and potential recruits.
But the Red Storm are no longer pushovers. With a new coach, new dedication, and some new confidence, this game won’t be lack the last 2 contests against the Orange. The Orange have turned the last 2 games into laughers, whooping and hollering on the bench as they play got ragged, and garbage time extended into double-digit minutes.
This year’s ‘Cuse team might be undefeated. But flawless? Not quite. The Red Storm seniors have a chance to knock off Syracuse for the first time in their careers.
Syracuse (16-0, 3-0)
The defining feature of the Orange is their defense, and their defensive length. They defend well inside with their forwards, Baye Keita and Rick Jackson, with Fab Melo getting some minutes. The tall Brazilian Melo is still acclimating to the college game, and will play less than fellow freshman Keita at center. Rick Jackson is an elite shot blocker, and is an excellent scorer from close to the hoop with his new slimness and stamina.
On the perimeter, Brandon Triche and Kris Joseph are two of the Orange’s better outside shooters. Both look to drive a little more than they shoot from the perimeter, and are aggressive in transition. Joseph is long and lean, a very good jack of all trades; he blocks shots and forces turnovers along with his scoring. Triche is a bit of a point guard, and a bull going to the rim. Sometimes, he seems a little single-minded about where he wants to go. Dion Waiters is a freshman backup, who can pass as well as hit a jump shot. James Southerland profiles as as strictly a jump shooter; he draws no fouls.
The team is led by Scoop Jardine, the point guard out of Philly. He has been a top-level distributor by the numbers this season. Jardine also snags some steals, draws a healthy number of fouls. He scores well inside but those perimeter jumpers he takes… 28% is not the mark of success.
The Orange have had a number of games where their defense has won the day… and their offense didn’t show up for large portions of the game. They’re not an automatic scoring machine like last year’s edition, and it leaves them vulnerable.
Keys to the Game
ABM – Always Be Moving. In the halfcourt, St. John’s has to make the zone move and not settle for outside shots. They have been good at moving the ball patiently, looking for interior scoring first. They need to be better Wednesday night.
Slow Down Their Transition. The Orange aren’t the best shooters – they have had some stinker games, especially from the perimeter. And there is some speed on their wings.
Offensive Rebounding. St. John’s needs to be active in looking for second shots for more scoring opportunities.
Turnovers. St. John’s also can’t give up scoring opportunities to token pressure from the Cuse guards or traps within the 2-3 zone. And if St. John’s can force some turnovers, that would be good as well.
Patience. St. John’s has to play their game and not try to start jacking up bad 3-pointers or getting frustrated at an Orange run.
Prediction: It could happen. 65-61, St. John’s.