RESULTS| STATS| HISTORY | MESSAGE BOARD | SYRACUSE INSIDER
RECORD: 24 - 5 REGION: East SEED: 3|
COACH: Jim Boeheim CONFERENCE: ACC
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
This may be as talented an offensive team as Jim
Boeheim has had at Syracuse since the 1980's. With Carmelo Anthony, the
Orangemen have a star who can score every time he touches it and draws an
enormous amount of defensive attention. Anthony can shoot off the dribble,
post and pass out of double teams. Hakim Warrick is a quick jumping
athlete who dunks everything around the basket. He is the most
explosive leaper in the Big East. Gerry McNamara and Billy Edelin may be
young, but both are savvy. McNamara's shooting compliments Edelin's
ability to take it off the bounce. Kueth Duany blends in with this
talented group to make Syracuse a Final Four contender.
|Player to Watch|
From Game 1, folks in up-state NY knew Carmelo wouldn't stay long. But his likely only season in Orange has been special.
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How They Got Here
Syracuse has improved maybe as much as any team in the country from November to March, an unsurprising development considering its best player (Carmelo Anthony) and point guard (Gerry McNamara) are freshmen, and considering the midseason addition of Billy Edelin, whose debut after missing a 1½ seasons for off-court issues was worth the wait.
Edelin, a 6-foot-4 point guard who plays interchangeably with the sweet-shooting McNamara, scored 26 points in the Orangemen's 92-88 victory against Notre Dame on March 4. That was the Orangemen's sixth consecutive victory after a desultory 75-61 loss at Connecticut, and for Syracuse the curve continues to shoot upward.
Their NCAA seeding -- which could have been No. 1 if not for a semifinal loss to Connecticut in the Big East tournament -- is higher than their national ranking for most of the season because they have won their last three games against foes from other powerful conferences, including a 92-65 waxing of Georgia Tech and victories at home against Missouri and on the road against Michigan State.
The only non-NCAA Tournament team to beat Syracuse this season was Rutgers, and for seeding purposes, the selection committee surely will excuse a three-point loss at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
Edelin's addition in mid-January has given coach Jim Boeheim time to get his rotation set, with Edelin joining wing Josh Pace and center Jeremy McNeil to give Syracuse an impressive eight-player rotation.
What We Like
The Orangemen have a lot of offensive firepower, maybe as much as anyone in the tournament. Anthony is a force of nature, a 6-foot-8 wing forward who shoots 3s against bigger defenders, posts up smaller ones, and can dunk on anybody. If Anthony were a one-man gang we'd like him a lot, but we like him even more because he doesn't have to be.
The Orangeman have a nice balance of guards and forwards, with McNamara and Edelin sharing the point, and McNamara able to slide to shooting guard, too. Inside, Anthony can score and gets plenty of help from explosive Hakim Warrick, who has double-double capability, and unselfish senior Kueth Duany. Inside, Craig Forth isn't a great scorer or defender, but is more than adequate at both ends, given the cast around him.
What We Don't Like
Talented the Orangemen may be -- and are -- but experienced they are not. That doesn't matter so much in January and February, but for some reason, March seems to expose every a weakness a young team has.
Look at Duke when Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy were freshmen in 1999; they lost in the Sweet 16. Most of the time the NCAA Tournament isn't a time for youth to be served. It's a time for youth to be showed the nearest exit.