MBB : Switch to man ignites key SU run
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jim Boeheim made one point crystal clear in his postgame press conference, reiterating it three times: Syracuse switching from a zone defense to man-to-man in the second half was the key to his team’s 89-81 win over No. 22 Kansas Tuesday night.
‘We worked hard on our man-to-man, we played a lot of man-to-man this year, and that was the difference,’ Boeheim said. ‘We got a couple steals, Jonny (Flynn) got two and that I thought was the difference.’
After the Orange went down by 13 early in the second half, Boeheim switched to man, which he played predominantly in the first three games of the year. The Orange grabbed steals on three straight possessions that led to six points, and went on a 10-0 run against a baffled Kansas squad. The Jayhawks went without a field goal for more than five minutes.
‘They just whipped us in their man,’ Kansas head coach Bill Self said. ‘When they went to their man, that’s when they got better. We were kind of in the hang-on mode as opposed to the attack mode.’
Boeheim admitted after the game that he may have been a little slow to switch to the new defense. After all, the 33-year head coach has been using mostly zone throughout his career. The players, however, have voiced their preference for the man-to-man this season. They showed why it’s their favorite Tuesday night.
‘If we wouldn’t have been able to pressure them and get some steals, we would never have been able to get back in it,’ Boeheim said.
Battle of point guards
SU point guard Jonny Flynn’s stats couldn’t have been any more similar to KU point guard Sherron Collins’ heading into Tuesday night’s matchup.
Flynn was averaging 20 points per game. Collins was averaging 19.7. Both had scored 18 points in their respective semifinal games, and both had led their respective teams in scoring in each game.
Matched up against one another, Flynn shined brightest. His 25 points led all scorers, and he made a game-tying basket with six seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime. Collins missed a tough jumper at the other end that would have won his team the game, and didn’t score in the final nine minutes of regulation as SU climbed back.
‘He’s got ice in his veins,’ SU guard Eric Devendorf said of Flynn. ”That’s the top point guard in America.’
What a difference a day made for SU shooting guard Eric Devendorf. Monday night against Florida, he totaled nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. He dropped 20 points on Kansas Tuesday night.
The Syracuse shooting guard was the Orange’s second-leading scorer against Kansas. In the first half, when his team was down 20-10 and struggling to stave off a Kansas run, Devendorf hit a jumpshot and a 3-pointer to help keep the Orange within striking distance. He led the Orange at the break with 11 points.
Kansas’ other home
Before Wednesday, Kansas hadn’t lost a regular-season game in Kansas City since 1983. Jim Boeheim is glad he didn’t find out that tid bit until after the game.
‘I’m glad I didn’t know that,’ Boeheim said with a laugh. ‘I would have choked up and I would have never been able to do it. It’s good not to know those things I guess.’
The game was played in front of nearly 17,000 fans, nearly all of which sided with Kansas. The team’s campus lies a 45-minute drive from Kansas City. The Jayhawks came into the game with a 27-game win streak in Kansas City, including a 5-0 mark at the Sprint Center. The Jayhwawks also owned the longest win streak in the nation, at 16 games.
‘We knew coming in it was going to basically be a road game,’ SU center Arinze Onuaku said.
This and that
With two wins, SU vanquished the last three national champions. Kansas won the 2008 NCAA Championship, and Florida took home the 2006 and 2007 titles. … Each of the seven previous CBE tournament champions has advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Last year’s CBE winner, UCLA, went on to the NCAA Final Four. … Syracuse, at 5-0, is off to its best start since the 2003-04 season, when it started 6-0.
Thomas Wolfe is leaving his position as senior vice president and dean of student affairs to become the new president of Iliff School of Theology… Read more »
UPDATED: MAY 15, 4:35 p.m. Syracuse University students will soon see new living options in downtown Syracuse, after a new construction company revamps a vacant… Read more »
THEY'RE BACK: Syracuse pulls off furious comeback win against Yale to return to final four after longest absence since 1979
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Brian Megill sprinted over to Dominic Lamolinara and catapulted into his arms. The game was over. The unthinkable was no longer… Read more »