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Wednesday, March 11, 2009


March 11, 2009

Seton Hall just will not go away. And, if you think Syracuse is in for a walk through Central Park tonight, think again. The Pirates dispatched South Florida in the Bulls Garden debut last night, 68-54, as NYC natives Jeremy Hazell (23), Eugene Harvey (16) and Robert Mitchell (13) combined for 52 points as the Pirates rallied from a two-point halftime deficit. With friends and family in the stands again tonight, look for SHU to give the Orange everything they have left.

Syracuse comes into the 2009 Big East Tournament as the #6-seed, having won four in a row, highlighted by Saturday's overtime victory at Marquette. Syracuse aims to increase their momentum heading to the 2009 NCAA Tournament as they look to make their return after back-to-back NIT appearances.

Here are some pregame stories and previews on tonight's nightcap:

Orange Survived, Then Thrived (Syracuse Post-Standard)
Orange Scouting Report: SU vs. SHU (Syracuse Post-Standard)
SHU Knocks off USF in Big East Tournament (Star-Ledger)
Seton Hall Coach Bobby Gonzalez Surviving, Maturing (Star-Ledger)

This is a game that Bobby Gonzalez can not wait to coach in. These two teams met to open Big East play just prior to the New Year, but 'Gonzo' was not on the Pirate bench due to a one-game suspension for remarks and actions following a loss to Rutgers to conclude the 2007-2008 regular season. The Pirates were embarrassed in the Carrier Dome that night, in a game that was really not even that close.

While SHU was firing away blanks from beyond the arc, going 2-27 from three-point range, they were letting Syracuse do anything they wanted to on the offensive end. The Orange put five in double figures, led by Andy Rautins' 26 points.

That was then, this is certainly 'the now.' The Pirates were without John Garcia in that game and they are a much better team with him available. His size and experience will allow him to go toe-to-toe with SU big man Arinze Onuaku. The Orange definitely have the size advantage as they also start 6'9 sophomore Rick Jackson, and although SHU will use a smaller line-up, SU will not likely be deterred as they will employ their standard 2-3 zone defense against SHU.

In the first game tge SU zone led to the Pirates just bombing away from three-point range to no avail. Tonight, in order to compete, it will be imperative for Eugene Harvey to run an efficient zone offense, attacking the seams and finding players in position for good shots.

In the first game, SHU also pushed tempo and the game quickly turned into something you would see in the summer on the AAU circuit. It is a style that the Orange love to play with Jonny Flynn, Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf attacking the basket in transition for lay-ups and if, by chance, SHU got back on defense, Andy Rautins was open for the three. And, on the rare occasions they missed, Jackson or Onuaku were there to gobble up second chance opportunities.

SHU simply can't afford to let the game turn into that kind of track meet against the Orange again. They will need to play defense, try and keep SU off the boards and strike quickly, but intelligently on offense.

Syracuse is playing pretty well right now and they are mighty confident. While that trait seems to be pretty consistent with this group, their play has been backing up the confidence they have in themselves of late. In the end, they are the better, deeper and more experienced team, and that will lead to a solid win, but expect SHU to make their share of runs at them.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Syracuse 81
Seton Hall 72



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