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.
Click here for the rest of my story.
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)
|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|
|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)
|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*|
|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|