Still a chance for the Zags to spin this Maui trip around and turn it into a positive after yesterday’s 73-63 loss to #2 Purdue. Syracuse now stands in the way and this isn’t an Orange team you may be used to. No more Jim Boeheim with the legendary coach retiring after last season and Adrian Autry replacing him at the helm. No more historic 2-3 zone defense but instead, a man-to-man defense. The Orange will throw out a zone when guarding an inbound play now and again but that’s really about it.
In their 73-56 loss to #7 Tennessee yesterday, Syracuse struggled on the boards losing 48-33 and haven’t been a great rebounding group to start this season. This is a spot where the Gonzaga big men can expose the Orange. On the offensive end for the Zags, the 14 turnovers yesterday against the Boilermakers needs to be solved. Don’t be careless with the rock and give the Orange any more scoring opportunities than they deserve. Gonzaga should also look to attack the paint as much as possible with their overall size advantage over Syracuse.
I sure hope shots can continue to fall for the Zags going into the second half this time around, that ice cold performance coming out of locker room against Purdue was hard to watch.
Syracuse’s record -
3-1 (W vs New Hampshire, W vs Canisius, W vs Colgate, L vs #7 Tennessee)
Key stats -
74.3 points allowed
KenPom rankings -
106.4 adjusted offensive efficiency (#106)
102.2 adjusted defensive efficiency (#140)
Key player to watch for -
Judah Mintz (sophomore, guard) - 21.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.0 SPG
The combo guard can be crafty when sneaking his way to the rim. Mintz’s overall athleticism and will to score is what stands out when watching him. Ryan Nembhard and Nolan Hickman aren’t an elite defending backcourt so they should have their hands full. On the other end, he acts as a smart, disruptive and versatile defender due to his length at his position.
Mintz still needs to become a more consistent three-point shooter. That is the major part of his game that can use improvement if he wants to move NBA draft boards.
Some early morning basketball action from Hawaii is coming your way very soon, 11:30 AM PT on ESPN2 to be exact.
Please get a W today because I really do not want to watch the Zags go up against Chaminade in the 7th/8th place game. That’d wouldn’t move the needle at all when it comes to an NCAA Tournament resume/seeding.
Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho