Orange Open Home Slate Against Wagner
It’s been a very nice few weeks for the Syracuse athletic department. The football team scored two of its biggest victories of the Doug Marrone era, the basketball team cleaned up on the recruiting trail and opened its season with a blowout over San Diego State, and even the field hockey and soccer teams are getting in on the action. This afternoon, the basketball team hope to keep momentum rolling with a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Wagner Seahawks. Bashir Mason and his squad shouldn’t present much of a challenge. Like the Aztecs last Sunday, they lack the size needed to go against Rakeem Christmas and Dajuan Coleman and rely heavily on their shooters to do damage from distance. Within its conference, Wagner is expected to fair quite well, returning much of the personnel that led them to an upset win over Pittsburgh and a second-place finish in the Northeast Conference in 2012. Against bigger and better talent, I don’t expect the Seahawks to keep it very competitive, though they do have some nice players.
Though SU’s players and coaches were ebullient in describing their experience about the U.S.S. Midway, they’re probably ready to switch to the more traditional indoor setting that allows them to be so much more versatile on offense.
Who To Watch Out For:
Kenneth Ortiz – The Southern Mississippi transfer had five turnovers in Wagner’s win against Delaware State, but also led the team with eight rebounds despite standing just 6’0″ tall. Last season, Ortiz put on some theatrics with this game-winner against Santa Clara.
Latif Rivers – Rivers can score in volumes. He scored at least 15 points in 15 of Wagner’s games last season, and had four 20-point games. The problem with Rivers, though, is that he’s not very effective, with a career 38.3% field goal percentage. He’ll be a long range threat on Sunday, though.
Jonathon Williams – Williams settled in very nicely last season, averaging 13 points and five rebounds after transferring from junior college in San Francisco. The senior led the Seahawks in scoring in its first game of the season and is one of the team’s biggest players at 6’6″ and 225 pounds.
Keys To The Game
- This is going to sound like a broken record from last weekend, but Wagner has some nice balance among their scorers, so the Orange will have to contain the Seahawks, especially from the outside. Apart from 6’11” junior Naofall Folahan, they just don’t have the size and strength necessary to stick with the Orange down low, so their margin of error will be slim.
- Accordingly, the Orange shouldn’t have any trouble exploiting their size advantage in the post. After a frustrating debut, I expect Dajuan Coleman to be more comfortable and have a few more opportunities than he did last Sunday.
- As I alluded to in the opening paragraph, playing in controlled conditions should allow the Orange to flex and develop their perimeter shooting, either running set plays to get the shooters open or being successful enough in the post to draw the extra attention that will allow Brandon Triche, Trevor Cooney, James Southerland and even C.J. Fair to get open.
The Bottom Line
Syracuse won’t have much trouble against an undersized Seahawks team playing for a first-year head coach in Bashir Mason. While SU’s scoring core of MCW, Triche and Fair should be steady once again in the scoring column, I’ll be most interested in seeing the team open up its playbook and show off what it can do from distance. Against San Diego State, the Orange packed it in (and rightfully so, considering the conditions), so we didn’t really get a chance to see the entire picture of Syracuse’s potential.
Prediction: Syracuse 85, Wagner 63