Tag Archives: Arinze Onuaku

Sweet Like Bear Meat!

…To quote Tracy Morgan.

Yes, Syracuse is back in the Sweet 16 after defeating Arizona State today. I don’t have time for a full recap of today’s game, but I wanted to look at the three keys to victory that I mentioned earlier on ASU blog House of Sparky. The Orange hit on all three today in their win:

1. Get Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson involved early.

This was obviously something that Coach Boeheim stressed to his players before the game, because the Orange had an inside presence from the beginning. The two big men combined for 10 of the first 20 Orange points, and both finished with double-digit scoring efforts. This was a key to getting open looks for Devendorf and Rautins against the ASU match-up zone.

2. Knock down some threes.

No problems with the outside shot today. Devendorf had five triples and Rautins added three threes of his own. 9-20 (45%) effort from long distance today, compared to the 2-16 showing in the first round. If the Orange shoot like they are capable of from outside, they can be a challenge to any team in the country.

3. Score, score, score!

I wrote that the Orange are 18-3 on the year when the reach the 80 point mark, and only 9-6 when they don’t. Well, they only got to 78, but against a team that was only giving up 60 points per game, 78 is a huge number. The Orange kept the pace where they like it and weren’t bogged down by ASU’s zone. Great offensive day for Syracuse.

Cory from House of Sparky was right on with his assessment on how to beat the Sun Devils. Pendergraph was forced out of the game with about ten minutes left (why did Herb Sendek leave him in there?) which eliminated any inside presence ASU had. While we did allow Kuksiks and Abbott to get open looks we kept the defensive pressure on ASU the eintire game, and limited the damage of James Harden. We also did a great job working inside-out on their zone.

All told, it was a very solid performance by the Cuse hoopsters. Next up is Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners.

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How To Lose/How To Win Against ASU

After reading Sean’s great interview with House of Sparky over at Nunes, I contacted Cory from H.O.S. and asked him how Syracuse can beat Arizona State, and how ASU can defeat the Orange. His responses are below. I provided the Syracuse versions to this question on his site as well. Enjoy.

Three Ways ASU Can Beat Syracuse

Arizona State plays a 2-3 matchup zone that tries to limit interior scoring at the expense of leaving a fair amount of threes open for the opposition. Against a Syracuse team that shoots 34.3% from beyond the arc, this is a tricky proposition.

1. Extend the zone, forcing Arinze Onuaku to make plays.

With Jeff Pendergraph playing solid defense in the paint, Onuaku will be hard-pressed to shoot 66% from the field, like he has been doing all year long. Andy Rautins and Eric Devendorf are far too dangerous to leave open from downtown, so the extended zone will look to force the ball inside.

2. Stay out of foul trouble, Jeff Pendergraph.

Leading us to our next point. Without Pendergraph in the game, our defense takes on a different dimension, with backup center Eric Boateng down low. He’s not very good. He has very little control of his body once he gets some positive momentum, and is prone to hard fouls. Boateng is not a scorer, either, limiting our options on the offensive end.

Let me make this very clear: without the impassioned play of Jeff Pendergraph for at least 35 minutes tomorrow, Arizona State is in huge trouble. Pendergraph takes pressure off of James Harden on the offensive end, and is a force on defense.

3. Revive James Harden’s ailing game.

Harden hasn’t looked like himself since the Pac-10 Semifinal matchup against Washington. Against USC in the Pac-10 title game and Temple on Friday, Harden was focused on finding the open man instead of looking for his own shot. Are defenders catching on to his subtle nuances and shutting him down? I certainly hope not.

When he’s on, Harden has the ability to singlehandedly beat any team in America. He lacks motivation at times, but there will be no shortage of enthuasism tomorrow morning. With a fiery player like Eric Devendorf on the court, Harden will undoubtedly step up his game.

Three Ways To Beat Arizona State

1. Get Pendergraph out of the Game

ASU can be beat when you play with the right mindset. The first step is getting Jeff Pendergraph into foul trouble, as I mentioned before. We are paper thin in terms of size. With Pendergraph on the bench, the zone can be attacked by Onuaku and the strong drives of Jonny Flynn.

2. Keep the defensive pressure on/allow no open looks

Once this objective is complete, Harden now feels the increased pressure of scoring the lion’s share of points for ASU. Give him no room to make anything happen. Force Jerren Shipp and Jamelle McMillan to shoot when they are in the game.

Pressure Derek Glasser in the backcourt, as he is prone to turnovers when the full court press is on. Defensive intensity will help you. Be careful not to give Rihards Kuksiks, Derek Glasser, or Ty Abbott open looks from three, as they will make you pay.

3. Work inside out on offense

Finally, break the zone from the inside. After the matchup zone sags to protect the basket, Devendorf, Flynn and Rautins will be able to find an open shot from outside the arc. From a percentage standpoint, playing Syracuse is a logistical nightmare for Arizona State. From three or from the paint, the high field goal percentage plays into the hands of the Orange.

Thanks to Cory for the insight. Check his blog later more great post-game analysis.

Cuse Making Some Lists

Jeff from CollegeHoopsNet.com’s March Madness All Season blog has some tournament previews up, and the Orange fair pretty well overall from where Jeff sits. Here is a look at the Syracuse players on the lists as well as some potential tourney opponents:

Top 30 Three-Point Shooters: Andy Rautins is 16th. Potential second round opponents Arizona State (Rihards Kuksis, #3) and Temple (Dionte Christmas, #26) are also represented on this list.

Top 12 Backcourts: Orange crack the top 5 in this one, behind UNC (#1 seed in the South regional), Gonzaga (#4 seed in the South), Memphis, and Washington. Fellow Big Easters Villanova (7th) and Marquette (9th) also make the cut.

Top 10 Trios: UNC (#1) and Gonzaga (#10) make the cut in this one as well, with the Orange trio of Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris coming in at 9th. While Harris is the 3rd leading scorer on the club and the leading rebounder, he has been horribly inconsistant of late. In the UConn game he finished with 29 points and 22 boards, but if you look at the other games he’s played recently, you’ll notice a pattern of mediocrity:

  • Marquette: 9 pts, 5 reb
  • Seton Hall: 4 pts, 6 reb
  • West Viginia: 6 pts, 4 reb
  • Louisville: 5 pts, 4 reb

Granted, fatigue played a huge factor in the WVU and Louisville . But with Jim Boeheim yanking him in and out of the lineup lately because of his inconsistent play and the emergance of Kristoff at the 4, I think Paul has had a rough couple of weeks. I think any success Syracuse will have in the NCAA tourney will only come if Paul brings his “A-game” to the table.

Then again, Arinze Onuaku makes Paul Harris look like Mr. Consistency by comparison. What the hell happened to A.O.? I guess I’m glad our back court is playing as good as it is.

We’ll hopefully have a Q&A with Jeff this week, including some more info on SFA.

The Greatest Game Ever Played?

Blogging really only requires three things: a basic knowledge of the subject you intend to write about, an internet connection, and an ability to get into some sort or rhythm so you can post more than twice a month. I have an unbelievable lack of the latter, seeing as how I never got into a rhythm posting on here and haven’t posted in three months. I was going to keep this blog dormant until I posted my football preview for next season, but after what I (and I’m assuming most Cuse fans) witnessed tonight, I knew I had to get some thoughts down.

Six overtimes...what else needs to be said?

Six overtimes...what else needs to be said?

Without hyperbole, this was the greatest basketball game I have ever watched. Seriously, try right now to think of five games better than this- on all levels, not just college but pro too- and if you can come up with one let me know. I know Kentucky-Duke was good, but it didn’t go six overtimes. This is by far the greatest Syracuse game I’ve ever seen, and maybe the best Big East game as well. This game was absolutely insane, and the fact that my favorite basketball team was involved only adds to the insanity.

How many words need to be said about this team? Before tonight, they might have gone down as the most frustrating Syracuse team of all-time. They are unbelievably talented, yet struggled to win games against any of the top Big East teams. Add in the fact that our center is shooting a whopping 12% from the free throw line in conference play, his backup was not much better from the line, Paul Harris has spent more time in Jim Boheim’s dog house the past 2 weeks than Jeremy McNeil did in his entire senior season, and this was quickly becoming another lost Syracuse season. Oh, and that is without mentioning the whole Eric Devendorf saga.

But tonight changed all of that. No matter what happens against West Virginia in the Big East semifinal, no matter how the Orange do in the NCAA tournament, this game is what this team will be remembered for. Even Boheim knows how special this was, saying he has never been as proud of a team as he was of this team on this night. And he coached a national championship team. What does that say about tonight?

The fact that Syracuse didn’t even have a lead in the game until the 6th overtime shows how impressive their victory was. After Onuaku, Jackson and The Waffle all fouled out, Kris Joseph, a 6-7 freshman played center. I don’t know if he’s ever played there in his life, but he did tonight. 8 total palyers fouled out of tonight’s game. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. Jonny Flynn played 67 minutes! I sat in a chair for 3 hours and 45 mins watching this thing and I’m exhausted. How must Jonny feel? Flynn finished one point shy of his career high with 34 points. Harris ended with his own career high- 29 points. Syracuse as a team was shooting 64% from the free throw line this season. In the 35 mins of overtime, they shot 23-26 from the charity stripe. Look at that again: 23-26. If before this game I would have told you Syracuse would make 23 out of 26 free throw attempts, would you have believed me? Of course not. You probably would have yelled, spit or cursed at me. Oh, and don’t forget Devo’s unreal shot that didn’t count. It might not have been good, but how the hell did he get that thing over the defender? Syracuse only had 16 turnovers in 70 minutess of play! Pretty amazing for a team that was 15th in the Big East in turnovers per game in the regular season.

This game had too many stories to tell, but I’ll remember the greatest details for a long time. As Chris Chase pointed out, this is why we love college hoops. I couldn’t agree more.

I was going to go down to NYC on Friday if Syracuse beat UConn. Now, I don’t really see the point. Nothing I could witness in person would come close to tonight. I wouldn’t see basketball even a fraction as good , and, let’s face it, there is about a 0.6% chance we can win tomorrow. We just played 1.8 basketball games against a top 5 basketball team.

I work for a sports network, and was working tonight during the game. Since I was in a studio where a live broadcast was being produced, I had my cell phone off. When I left, I had 13 text messages waiting for me. They basically tell the story of the game:

  • My buddy Jay: The waffle is in already
  • My sister: Sweet!
  • Jay: When are you going to admit I was right about the Belgian? (editors note- I’ve never been against Kristoff, per say. And he has been playing out of his mind the last two weeks. All in all, I enjoyed the Kristoff era)
  • My sister: Holy shit I’m going nuts!
  • My buddy Ross: This is absolutely amazing!!!
  • “The” Trout: Shit, I’m gonna run outta beer if this keeps up.
  • Bob from work: One of these players is gonna die on the court.
  • Bob again: Honestly….someone will die.
  • Trout again: GaaAAAaaahhh! (editors note- that is the actual capitalization he used)
  • My UConn alumni-roomate: I’m not even mad to lose this one. Congrats.
  • Trout again: …!
  • Another UConn co-worker: I can’t sleep. I’m not mad. I don’t know what this emotion is. It’s like purgatory, but Jews don’t believe in that. (editors note-just so you know, he’s Jewish, I’m not racist)
  • Bob again: Wow…all I have to say.

Wow indeed.