SU hope to bounce back vs. Rutgers
Every year, basketball coaches make changes in their team’s practice schedule as the season progresses. Preseason practices usually are the longest, while the duration of the workout steadily decreases to the point where there is just a lot of fine tuning for conference tournaments.
Syracuse women’s basketball head coach Keith Cieplicki admits to practicing longer than he would with other teams because there is a lot more learning to be done with such a young team. Four Syracuse University freshmen and two sophomores have logged consistent minutes this season.
‘The definition of a good team is a consistent team, having that ability to play a possession and let it go,’ Cieplicki said. ‘Some of our young players are still learning that.’
The Orange will have to forget a lot of possessions from Wednesday’s 70-56 loss to Georgetown when it travels to Piscataway, N.J., to play No. 8 Rutgers on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Against Georgetown, there were many role reversals. Forward Chineze Nwagbo and center Vaida Sipaviciute, who have recently dominated the post for SU, were non-factors offensively.
Amanda Adamson, who had earned a starting spot the last few games, struggled in the first half and only played one minute in the second half.
The Orange (11-9, 3-6 Big East) will have to deal with a Scarlet Knights team, fresh off a 57-44 loss Thursday to No. 11 Connecticut. Rutgers had already beaten nationally ranked LSU, Texas and Tennessee before falling short against the Huskies.
SU won’t be the only team displaying youth this weekend. Rutgers is led by freshman Matee Ajavon, who scored 20 points against UConn. Ajavon is a 5-foot-8 McDonald’s All-American from Malcolm X. Shabazz High School in New Jersey. Syracuse will counter with freshmen Jessica Richter and Mary Jo Riley, who led a frantic second-half comeback against Georgetown to close to within 12 points.
‘It’s hard because it’s a big hill to climb,’ Cieplicki said after the GU game. ‘It’s a young team, we’re learning and I am happy with that. I understand that there are going to be nights like this and no one wants nights like this, but hopefully the next time we’ll be a little more ready at the start. Any other time, maybe that gets us back in the game.’
SU cannot afford to dig itself into a 30-point hole again as it did Wednesday. Cieplicki has faith that won’t happen again.
‘We lost by 31 at West Virginia and we beat Villanova,’ he said. ‘Every game in this league has a life of its own. You put it behind you and hopefully we’re more ready (Sunday). We have to come out and be more prepared to play.’
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