December 3, 2008

M. Bball Faces Tough Midweek Road Matchup With Syracuse

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The men’s basketball team has had its challenges on the road this season, losing contests to Siena, St. John’s and Indiana. The toughest of the season might just come tonight as the Red travels to Syracuse to take on the No. 20 Orange in a game which will be broadcast locally on Time Warner Cable. The Red will enter the central New York showdown unsure if junior point guard Louis Dale will suit up until game time. Dale’s services would help as they face a tough and physical Big East squad led by sophomore point guard Johnny Flynn.
“They are long and athletic,” said senior center Jeff Foote. “We can’t get intimidated by that. We plan to use outside shooting. We have to be tough with the ball and try and get open shots. We have to set good screens. We are just going to have to play good solid basketball.”
While Dale’s status in uncertain, the team knows that if it is going to be successful tonight, it must be competitive on the board. [img_assist|nid=33963|title=Battle of the bigs|desc=Senior center Jeff Foote (1) will need to have a big rebounding night to help neutralize Syracuse’s leading rebounders — center Arinze Onuaku (6-9) and forward Paul Harris (6-5).|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
In last year’s matchup against the Red, the Orange dominated the boards. The personnel will stay the same for Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim as he returns center Arinze Onuaku and bullish wingman Paul Harris, both juniors, who average 8.7 and 9.5 rebounds, respectively.
“We need to hold our own,” Foote said. “They are very good at rebounding and getting on the glass. We especially have to keep them off the offensive boards.
The Red scheduled hard non-conference opponents this year but haven’t been able to field the same squad that went 22-6 a year ago.
With senior co-captain Adam Gore down until at least mid-January and Dale battling hamstring problems missing the team’s first seven games, the team has not been able to snatch a high-profile win yet. Tonight, the team will have another opportunity — with or without Dale.
“You hope he can play because he is a great player,” Foote said. “Chris [Wroblewski] and [senior co-captain Jason] Battle have been doing well. But you cannot overlook what Louis does for our team. He is a great player, so it’s tough.”
The Orange has its set of signature wins to start the 2008-09 campaign. The Big East power has already sealed wins over the last two national champions in Kansas and Florida.
A key to the team’s success has been Boeheim’s willingness to go against his standard and implement more man-to-man defense instead of the 2-3 zone. A zone would have benefitted the Red — a good 3-point shooting team.
“We have been preparing for both [the zone and the man-to-man],” Foote said. “We feel with our outside shooters it would be risky for them to go 2-3. They went man-to-man time top time last year and we feel like they will do that again.”