StLouHoo's Preview:

Round Two with the Syracuse Orange

Syracuse Orange

After opening the season in a made-for-the-ACCN event in the Carrier Dome, UVA and Syracuse meeting this weekend under more traditional circumstances at JPJ. The Hoos won the opening affair in ugly but effective fashion against a young Syracuse team. Will the Orange have any new tricks up their sleeve this go-round?

Game Details:

Date/Time:Saturday, January 11th, 4:00 pm ET
Location:John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA


What 'They' Say

Torvik:Ranks SU #73, predicts a 58-52 UVA win, 74% confidence
KenPom:Ranks SU #70, predicts a 60-53 UVA win, 73% confidence


Depth Chart:

PG#11 Joseph Girard III, 6'1" 181, FR
30.9 mpg, 11.9 ppg, 4.0 apg, 33.7 3P%
SG#35 Buddy Boeheim, 6'6" 195, SO
34.6 mpg, 15.3 ppg, 2.7 apg, 40.7 3P%
SF#33 Elijah Hughes, 6'6" 215, JR
37.7 mpg, 19.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 44.8 FG%
PF#21 Marek Dolezaj, 6'10" 185, JR
33.1 mpg, 9.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 54.3 FG%
C#34 Bourama Sidibe, 6'10" 210, JR
24.0 mpg, 5.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 64.3 FG%
Key Reserves
G#0 Brycen Goodine, 6'3" 183, FR
11.3 mpg, 1.9 ppg, 0.8 apg, 0.0 3P%
F#1 Quincy Guerrier, 6'7" 220, FR
17.2 mpg, 6.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 45.6 FG%
C#14 Jesse Edwards, 6'11" 215, FR
7.3 mpg, 2.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 86.7 FG%


The ABC's of Syracuse:

A) They've gotten their offense on track. If the last thing you remember about Syracuse was their 34 points on their home floor on November 6th, you haven't seen them since then. While their defense has performed at mediocre levels, Boeheim has this unit scoring at a fairly healthy clip, posting KenPom's #36 offense nationally. It's led by an efficient 3-point attack hitting at over 36% collectively (Hughes and Boeheim each hitting 3's at 41%), but also effectively protects the ball, scores above-average in the lane, and can grab offensive rebounds and draw whistles at a respectable clip as well. Two stats that jump out are Cuse's appetite for the long ball, shooting the 3 on 47% of their field goal attempts (19th nationally), and sharing the ball so well that they assist on 67.5% of their makes (3rd highest nationally). This young club has grown together since we played them last and will present a stiffer test for the pack line this time around.

B) The bench has gotten very short. Boeheim played 9 players in our season-opening contest. Shortly after, starting guard Jalen Carey had thumb surgery which seems to have effectively ended his year. Brycen Goodine, a freshman, had already seen his minutes drop before breaking his nose in practice this week and probably needing to miss additional time. Freshman center Jesse Edwards had suffered from a sprained ankle and hasn't played since mid-December. And backup guard Howard Washington (DNP against UVA in November) has struggled to stay healthy this year after missing most of last year, having played only 10 minutes in Syracuse's last five games (current injury report is his knee). That's left Syracuse at times with only six healthy rotation players, having only Guerrier available off the bench in this week's home loss to Virginia Tech.

C) They've got a jumbo lineup. Cuse ranks 11th nationally in average height (as weighted by minutes played). Girard at 6'1" is the only "guard-sized" player they run out there with Jalen Carey, Brycen Goodine and Howard Washington all out of the rotation for various reasons. When Girard sits, Cuse's shortest player will be the 6'6" Boeheim, with jumbo wings Hughes and Guerrier pairing with more traditional bigs Dolezaj and Sidibe. This won't be a game where you see Chase Coleman come in to give a boost to speed against small and quick opposing back courts. In fact, there are going to be times Kihei may be stuck covering someone bigger than we'd like to see. The counter here is that it's a great matchup for UVA's own jumbo lineup, with Huff and Caffaro each well situated to give good minutes on the blocks.


Their Season To Date

Syracuse is 8-7 on the year, 1-3 in the ACC. Their lone Top-100 win came at Georgia Tech in early December. Otherwise they're 0-7 against KenPom Top 100 teams, the season opener against UVA include, and which most recently includes a 1 point home loss to Notre Dame and a 4 point home loss to Virginia Tech.


Keys to getting the win:

1) Attack the middle of the zone. Cuse's block rates look pretty good, but a lot of that was stat stuffing against Bucknell (13 blocks) and Oakland (11). Against their power opponents, only Notre Dame and GT fared poorly against Cuse's rim protection (6 blocks in each). Against the other six P5 opponents the Orange have faced (all losses), that block total has been between 1-3. Bottom line is that other than maybe Kihei, there's no reason not to attack the rim. Sidibe and Guerrier both average over 6 fouls per 40 minutes, and Virginia has plenty of size to challenge the two of them and Dolezaj. Add in the fact that crashing the paint means extra bodies to fight for offensive rebounds against an Orange team that struggles defending the glass, and the Hoos ought to be able to win this one at the rim if it's confident enough to get the ball inside the Zone's perimeter.

2) Keep them off the FT Line. Syracuse's offensive resurgance has been helped out by a keen ability to get to the FT line. Three times against their power conference foes this year, they've attempted 30+ FTs (OSU, PSU, and GT). They use their good ball movement and fearsome 3-point shooting to attack hard closeouts and catch help defenses out of position on penetration. Hughes and Dolezaj each have over 70 FTAs on the year. UVA can't play good defense only to bail out Syracuse's wings with a whistle. After watching the refs happily whistle UVA from the opening tip in Chestnut Hill, the discipline must be a focus area Saturday. We only gave up 7 FTAs in the opening game.

3) Slow down their shooters. When a team takes nearly half its shots from behind the arc, it's clearly a "live by the 3, die by the 3" kind of team. UVA's defense needs to ensure Syracuse dies by the 3. When the Orange get their offense going (even in their losses), they're hitting well over 40% on their 3's (42% in scoring 97 against GT, 44% in scoring 79 against Georgetown, and 48% en route to 87 against Notre Dame). Virginia's 3-point defense, by contrast, is holding teams to a nationally 8th-best 26.5% from deep. The Hoos held the similarly hot-shooting Hokies to a 16% night last weekend and hasn't allowed an opponent to hit more than 7 threes since Purdue over a month ago. That streak needs to continue.




Syracuse is a dangerous team in that they're desperate and revenge-minded. The Orange are, of course, a proud program who don't expect to enter mid-January with seven losses already. A team that can bomb away from 3 always feels like it's one good night away from catching fire, and after two losses by a combined 5 points last week, they'll feel like they're right on the cusp of saving their season with a win at JPJ. The Hoos are facing a hungry opponent.

The Hoos are a uniquely suited team to go inside on the Orange. Starters Diakite and Key shot 60% from inside against Syracuse in November, and Caffaro and Huff are well suited to occupy the low block in the zone offense, whether as the recipient of high-low ball movement or to win position on the offensive glass. The offense just needs to resist stagnating on the perimeter, as Tony's offenses are prone to do, and consistently attack the paint with good ball movement without turnovers.

Defensively, UVA will try to do the same thing it did to a similarly perimeter-oriented Virginia Tech and disrupt the rhythm of their attack and frustrate shooters. We'll do so with a bigger lineup, more Key at the 3 and healthy doses of Stattmann and Morsell to use their length on Boeheim and Hughes. Kihei on Girard should be an advantage to the Hoos.

This may come down to effort and focus, and I can't imagine after the BC loss the Hoos don't come out focused at home.

Hoos Win 57-50