After a four game win streak, the Jackets are now suffering through a four game losing streak. With Syracuse coming to town Wednesday night, we sat down with James Szuba from Nunes Magician to get his insight on what he expects when the Orange and Jackets clash at McCamish Pavilion.
FTRS: Joe Lunardi currently has the Orange as an 11 seed in his latest bracketology. How do Syracuse fans feel about their tournament chances?
I’d say there’s a mixed bag of reaction but overall this is more or less where Syracuse should expect to be for the remainder of the season. I surmise it will be a third straight year of sweating it out on Selection Sunday.
FTRS: Syracuse has struggled a bit away from home, with their lone ACC road win coming in a narrow victory against winless in conference Pittsburgh. In what ways has the team looked different playing away from the Carrier Dome?
I think Syracuse has been in close in every road game. The Orange had a win all but secured at Wake until poor late game execution took over, which was similar to Notre Dame at home. Syracuse took FSU to double overtime on the road and the guys were right there in a loss to Virginia.
Defense travels. I don’t see this being like last year where Syracuse truly looked like two different teams.
FTRS: After an impressive freshman campaign, Tyus Battle has become one of the top players in the conference in his sophomore season. What about his game makes him such an impactful player?
You can’t guard him. Seriously. He can score from anywhere on the court. He shoots it well from distance and finishes at the rim with strength. He also has a nice mid range game with a floater mixed in and a really good step back jumper. Pick your poison.
Oh, and he plays good defense too.
FTRS: Similarly, junior guard Frank Howard has seen a huge jump in his scoring this season. What clicked for him this year?
Beats me! Seriously, if you had told us Frank would be among the ACC leaders in scoring we would have laughed. Not because he wasn’t capable, but because he’s shown to be more of a pass first point guard in the past.
But he’s shooting the ball so well from the three this year, has shown an ability to hit the mid range and he can score around the rim, albeit a little overzealous at times in there.
FTRS: The final member of the Syracuse big three is freshman Oshae Brissett. What does he bring to the game when he’s on the floor?
Oshae was really good at getting to the rim and drawing contact in the non-conference. He was getting to the line frequently then. Lately, he’s been shooting it better from beyond the arc but hasn’t been getting to the rim as much. He can mix it up but he’s best suited attacking the rim.
FTRS: Those three players are all in the top 20 nationally in minutes played. Does such a heavy workload concern Syracuse fans come time for the ACC and NCAA tournament?
I think the fan base has bought into logging heavy minutes as Boeheim preaches it given media timeouts are every four minutes and all of the other breaks in between.
I’m not sold however and it is something of a concern. Depth is a very big factor for us especially with Matthew Moyer out with an ankle injury right now.
On Tuesday, it was announced Howard Washington is out for the game with a right leg injury. We have 6 available players but Bourama Sidibe has been bothered with knee tendinitis since December.
FTRS: The Syrcause zone is once again one of the top defenses in the country. How have teams been able to find the must success against it this season?
Shooting from the outside, bar none. Teams that have had the most success against syracuse have had one or two guys get hot and stay hot from beyond the arc.
FTRS: Finally, what’s your prediction? Who wins and why?
I’ll take Syracuse 62-59 although I think that playing on the road will be tough and won’t be totally surprised if the Syracuse killer Ben Lammers wills GT to a victory.
Many thanks to James for taking the time to answer my questions. Make sure to check out some Syracuse coverage over at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician.