SU's defense leads to decisive victory

In the "Battle of the Midway," the Orange basketball team, driven by C.J. Fair and Brandon Triche, stifled the the Aztecs in the first game of the season.

It wasn't asthetically pleasing, but the Orange will gladly take the 62-49 win over San Diego State on Sunday afternoon. After being moved from Friday afternoon due to inclement weather, playing on the USS Midway was an experience that all the players and coaches cherished. Here are three of my thoughts on the outcome of the game:

The outside conditions clearly had an effect on the game...

A 60 degree, sunny day with no chance of precipitation may seem like ideal playing conditions, but for Syracuse and San Diego State, it affected the efficiency of their offensive game. WIth the sun glaring off the court and through the glass backboards, it became difficult to see at times. The wind, however, was the most important factor in the game. The Aztecs are a team that rely heavily on their guardplay and their outside shooting. That part of their game was all but wiped out today. They were 1/18 on three point attempts while SU was 1/4. It clearly favored the bigger, longer Orange, who had a big advantage inside. The free throw shooting was also greatly affected. The Aztecs shot 42 percent from the field, missing 19 free throws. If they make half of those, it could have been a different outcome. Don't take too much from this game as I can guarantee that they won't be playing anymore games outside this season.

This defense has picked off right where they left off...

Last season's defense was thought to be the best SU had in years, but from what I saw today, I was much more impressed with this effort. SU applies relentless pressure on the opposing offenses because of their length and quickness. One of the biggest upgrades from last year was having Michael Carter-Williams at the top of the zone. He was everywhere today. He was always getting his hands on the ball and forcing bad shots. He finished the game with five steals. If by some chance the guards are able to penetrate the zone, they still have to deal with the size of C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman and Baye Mousa Keita coming off the bench. As a team, the Orange recorded 10 blocks, as they Aztecs struggled to score every basket.

C.J. Fair and Brandon Triche did exactly what they need to this season...

If the Orange want to accomplish big things this year, they are going to have to rely on Fair and Triche to take them there. Yes, they have young talent in Carter-Williams, Trevor Cooney and Coleman, but for at least the first part of the year, Fair and Triche need to lead. For the first 10 minutes of the game, Fair was the sole offensive threat for the Orange to help them get out to a double-digit lead. Also, from what I saw, it looks like he greatly improved his shot as he hit both mid-range and long shots. He ended up finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Triche's numbers may not astound you, but every time the Aztecs began to gain a little momentum, Triche was their to stem the tide, including tough layups under the basket. He played 39 minutes, which should be a norm for him considering the lack of depth at the guard position. He does, however, need to cut down on the turnovers. He had five of the team's 18. That's an unacceptable number. Expect that number to go down throughout the season.

All-in-all, it was a strong performance for the Orange in their first game in an uncommon atmosphere.



All photos courtesy of Antonio Zaragoza of The Daily Aztec

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