Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A New Carrier Classic

The 2012-2013 Syracuse Basketball season kicked off with some fanfare as the Orange took on the #20 ranked San Diego State Aztecs in the ‘Battle of the Midway’, upon the USS Midway in the Carrier Classic.  Of course, when I hear Carrier Classic, I still have images of Syracuse beating Michigan State and Magic Johnson, or GeneWaldron bombing Iona with 40 points.  But a new era, a new age, and the Orange were able to participate in this new memorable series.
Memorable will be what the game will go down as, even if it was not a well-played game.  An outdoor game with a strong breeze off the bay and strong sunlight in the eyes of the players can wreck some havoc on the games plans of both teams.  The fact that neither team could shoot a perimeter shot on the right side of the court (from the viewing audience) brought some interesting strategy into the game.  One has to wonder why Steve Fisher never instructed his players to stop taking the three point shots, as they finished a horrendous 1 of 18.  Jim Boeheim and the Orange figured it out fairly quickly, only taking four three point shots, all in the first half, and then abandoning that for the rest of the game.
There is not a lot you can take away from this game in terms of how the Orange will play for this season, as the game put limits on what teams could or could not do.  However, there were a few things I observed that made me smile for this upcoming year.
Syracuse was definitely the bigger team with the better inside game. The Orange, however, played the second half of the game shooting into the bad side of the court, where they took no perimeter shots.  Yet, they were consistently able to drive to the hoop from their half court set, despite the fact that the Aztecs knew that was the only offensive play the Orange would be able to run.  Brandon Triche did this two or three times; no one should doubt his athletic ability to get to the hoop.  I am not sure how Boeheim is going to get Trevor Cooney playing time with Michael Carter-Williams and Triche in the backcourt.  Then again, Boeheim was masterfully able to accomplish the four guard rotation last year.
DaJuan Coleman is HUGE.  He looked like a man-child on the court next to the rest of the players.  He will definitely clog up some space in the middle.  I liked the fact that Baye Keita was displaying the aggressive and active form he had most of his freshman season.  Valuable minutes from him will critical at times this upcoming year.
C.J. Fair did a lot of everything, which we all have come to take for granted. I think he pressed a little bit too much in the first half with taking too much of the offense upon himself, but it is a good sign he is asserting himself.  Rakeem Christmas was a defensive force with 5 blocked shots, and pulled down 6 rebounds (I would’ve liked more boards). 
The Orange jumped out to a 17-4 lead, and never let San Diego State back into the game.  They made the free throws when they had to make the free throws. They made the defensive stops when they had to, and they countered with strong offensive play whenever the Aztecs threatened. Those are good signs.
I look forward to the rest of this new season. Go Orange!

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