Basketball: Syracuse game preview

Under any circumstances, facing the Syracuse defense is a challenge for an unfamiliar opponent. “You hear about it,” senior guard Brandon Triche said, “but our zone is going to be way different than they expect.”

The version Cal sees Saturday evening in their third-round NCAA tournament matchup at HP Pavilion may be the best the Orange has ever put on the floor.

“Yeah, I think it is one of our better defensive teams,” said coach Jim Boeheim, in his 37th season. “We pride ourselves on defense … and this year we’re probably a little better than the norm.”

For the 12th-seeded Golden Bears (21-11) to climb past the Orange (27-9) and into their first Sweet 16 since 1997, they will have to be smart, quick and decisive on offense against a 2-2-1 zone alignment with few holes.

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THE SERIES: Syracuse leads 1-0. The Orange beat Cal 95-73 at Madison Square Garden during the 2009-2010 season.

ETC: Allen Crabbe needs 27 points to pull even with Brian Hendrick (1990-93) for 10th on Cal’s career scoring list with 1,556 points. Crabbe, who scored 19 against UNLV, has 1,529 for his career. … Syracuse’s 81-34 win over Montana on Thursday was its first in four NCAA games played in California. … Jim Boeheim and Mike Montgomery have combined to coach 68 college seasons and have won a total of 1,83 games.

WHAT’S NEXT: A victory would send the Bears to the Sweet 16 round in Washington D.C., beginning next Thursday. Cal has not advanced to the regional semifinals since 1997.

Cal (21-11, 12-6 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SG Allen Crabbe 6-6 Jr. 18.7 6.1
PF Richard Solomon 6-10 Jr. 8.5 6.6
PF David Kravish 6-9 So. 8.0 7.0
PG Justin Cobbs 6-2 Jr. 15.4 4.8*
SG Tyrone Wallace 6-3 Fr. 7.0 4.5
Key reserves
G Brandon Smith 5-11 Sr. 2.5 1.9*
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Sr. 4.8 3.6
G Ricky Kreklow 6-6 So. 3.5 2.3

Syracuse (27-9, 11-7 Big East)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
PF Rakeem Christmas 6-9 So. 5.4 4.7
SF James Southerland 6-8 Sr. 13.7 5.2
SF C.J. Fair 6-8 Jr. 14.4 7.0
SG Brandon Triche 6-4 Sr. 13.9 3.3
PG Michael Carter-Williams 6-6 So. 11.8 7.8*
Key reserves
C DaJuan Coleman 6-9 Fr. 4.8 4.0
F Jerami Grant 6-8 Fr. 4.1 2.9
G Trevor Cooney 6-4 Fr. 3.7 0.9


Jeff Faraudo

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Well, my bracket died with VCU, but I still have my dream bracket with Cal. Lets hope “home” court helps us as much as it did Michigan. I can’t say I would have changed my pick, but after spending time looking at game locations for m first round picks, I spaced completely when it came to TWO Michigan schools playing in Arburn Hills. Again, not upset for believing in Shaka (the man can coach), but I’m really pissed at myself for not realizing where they were playing, especially after going through that trouble for so many first round picks.

    It’s going to feel like a week, the next 7 1/2 hours.

  • Uh Huh!

    See that size right there? Cobbs is going to have a tough time with it because he can’t just elevate over it on his J. And I have to image Crabbe is going to get physical-style defense on him, which is an achilles heal for him. I’d like to see him be able to simply shoot over it all and not worry about that. Hopefully his shot will be on b/c I don’t see his intermediate game working – and that is the same reason why I don’t see him going to the draft after this season. If he can cope with Syracuse, then I may re-evaluate. We do not have a height deficiency with Solomon and Kravish, but I imagine heft is an issue, though weights are not given here. I expect to see much more of Thurman again!

    I guess I’m hoping we can keep it close. Boeheim is no Rice, and we needed every inch of him to win by 3. A ‘w’ would be pandemonium. Storm the home court!!!!! (UK loss was the first first round NIT court storm, this could be the first Sweet 16 court storm)

  • Uh Huh!

    WC: Sounds like you also allowed to hype over Shaka and his style of play to exceed your basic analysis of the players on the floor. Trey Burke is a regarded as a national POY. Michigan started 15-0 and garnered #1 votes.

    Oh, gee, darn. Syracuse started 17-1 and was also gathering #1 votes. Sir Charles Barkley is picking Cal. That’s nice.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Kinda, on the Shaka hype, but moreso on my love for the style of play. I really wanted to watch a full court frenetic Louisville v VCU final. I am a sucker for a pressing team with a deep bench. It really embodies team play regardless of the opponent. As for Michigan, the one game of theirs I watched this season was a stinker. Again, I probably would still have picked VCU, but I would have thought it a closer game, and probably hedged my bets by picking a different team to make the finals. Not like it matters, Cal making the finals will ruin my bracket anyways. 😉