Syracuse defense prepares for daunting test in high-octane Albany offense

first_imgIt will only be Syracuse’s second game of the season, but Sunday’s matchup might present the toughest offense it’ll face all year.The young Orange defense will be pitted against a familiar foe in Albany, who hung 16 goals on Syracuse a year ago and finished last season as the No. 1 attack in the nation.“We’re playing probably the best attack in the country, besides our team,” SU defender Sean Young said. “It’s definitely going to be a tough game, so everyone has to be on the same page.”Syracuse certainly remembers what the Great Danes did to it last season. The three-headed monster of brothers Lyle and Miles Thompson and their cousin Ty accounted for 10 of Albany’s 16 goals, including the game-winner in double overtime that shocked the Orange on its home field. The rematch is Sunday at 4 p.m., and No. 2 Syracuse’s (1-0) defense has the daunting task of stopping No. 11 Albany’s (0-0) high-octane offense to protect the Carrier Dome turf.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“They really look for one another very well,” SU head coach John Desko said. “Lyle’s a great feeder. Miles has become better at carrying the ball. Even though some people think of (Lyle) as the third attackman, we can’t think of him that way.”Although Syracuse’s defense allowed just seven goals to Siena on Monday, it wasn’t as sharp as it could’ve been.For the goal that put the Saints on the board, a screen was set for ball carrier Richie Hurley behind the net. Brandon Mullins couldn’t get through the pick and Matt Harris reverted back to the crease, giving Hurley plenty of space to curl to his right toward the doorstep. Young was late to get over, and an uncontested Hurley scored on Dominic Lamolinara. In transition four and a half minutes later, Siena’s Nate Barry split a double team at the 20-yard line. Mullins stepped up to pick up Barry, but Hurley was left unguarded at the crease on Lamolinara’s right. Barry flipped a pass ahead to Hurley, who jumped, corralled the pass and flicked it in with one motion for the second of his four goals.“We watched film, we know what we did wrong and we know how to correct it,” Mullins said. Those “uncharacteristic” mistakes, as Young called them, were against a team that averaged 11.29 goals per game last year. Albany led the country with 15.94 scores a contest, more than a full goal per game better than the nations’ second-leading team.Mullins is Syracuse’s only defensive carryover from that season-opening game last year, as the three starters from the Orange’s defense graduated last May. SU will start Sunday’s game playing man-to-man defense, Desko said, but will be open to utilizing some zone defense as a change-up to throw at the Great Danes, who will be opening their season.When the Thompson trio burned the Orange’s defense a year ago, it wasn’t in fast-break opportunities that Siena took advantage of three times Monday. The Great Danes proved their ability to move the ball quickly in their offensive sets and capitalize from point-blank range.“Everyone knows they have a great attack,” Mullins said. “They’re very freelance, so they’re kind of hard to scout. They’re really creative.”The accolades speak for themselves. Lyle Thompson, who dished out six assists against SU, was a first-team All-American last year and a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award. Miles Thompson was an honorable mention All-American and scored in each of the 12 games he played. Ty Thompson netted five goals against the Orange, finished fourth in the country in points per game, and topped Albany in goals for the year.And they certainly proved they can play together. One Thompson fed another for a score six times the night they beat Syracuse.To clinch the double-overtime victory over the No. 12 Orange, Lyle Thompson dodged along the goal line from the left corner, reached the crease and hit a wide-open Miles with a cross-crease pass, and gave the Great Danes their first win over the Orange in 11 tries.“We’d be so focused on the player with the ball, slide early to him and leave someone open on the crease,” SU goalie Bobby Wardwell said. “I think we’re going to be much better prepared for them when they come here this year. “There won’t be any surprises.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 15, 2014 at 4:11 pm Contact Phil: pmdabbra@syr.edu | @PhilDAbblast_img read more

Roberson finds ways to adapt despite hesitancy shooting jump shots

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 20, 2015 at 12:10 am Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesse It’s taken most of the season for Tyler Roberson to find a confident shooting rhythm, but too much confidence quickly landed him on the bench on Wednesday night. Roberson flashed into the high post and, with Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell in his face, shot an off-balance jumper that hit the left side of the rim and bounced out. A second later, Roberson jogged off the court while B.J. Johnson jogged on. “He’s trying to hit that jump shot. He can’t make that jump shot yet,” Jim Boeheim said after Syracuse’s 69-59 win over the Cardinals. “He’s got to go to the basket and the other thing he can do because nobody is there is that he can go right into a ball screen and now no one is there to help.”The junior forward re-entered the game three minutes later and, with a retooled offensive approach, never subbed out again. Instead of looking for his jump shot in the middle of Louisville’s matchup zone, Roberson facilitated Syracuse’s shooters, dumped to Rakeem Christmas in the post, set on- and off-ball screens and attacked the basket when given enough space. And even though he was looking for his teammates rather than his jumper, Roberson finished with 13 points and nine rebounds to help compensate for Trevor Cooney’s 1-for-10 shooting night. SU (17-9, 8-5 Atlantic Coast) now hosts Pittsburgh (17-10, 6-7) at noon on Saturday and since the Panthers dropped into a 2-3 zone the first time these teams met, Roberson’s high-post play will once again factor heavily into the Orange’s offensive success. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“When I was catching it I would look to attack and then off of that the defense would try and collapse so I would set a screen,” Roberson said after the Louisville game. “It was ball movement, they were in the matchup zone so if you move the ball, you’ll get open shots.”With Cooney off his mark and the matchup zone switching on every pick the Orange set for Michael Gbinije, Roberson was the best bet to free up Christmas inside. And because the forward has struggled with his mid-range jumper, he did that by setting screens and finding the spots that would give him good passing angles to the big man. After missing two jump shots at the start of the game, Roberson took the rest of his shots in right outside of the paint. He went 4-for-5 to finish his night and also shot 5-of-8 from the line, and wasn’t the only player that benefited from his refocused mindset. Christmas scored 29 points, shooting 9-of-10 from the field and 11-of-13 from the line. On Feb. 7, when Pittsburgh beat Syracuse 83-77, the Panthers played zone for a stretch of the second half and closed down passing lanes to the post. In that game, Gbinije hit two 3s that forced the Panthers out of the packed-in zone. This time Roberson can help alleviate the pressure on Christmas. “Tyler’s huge because he’s a threat in there. It forces the defense to play out on him and it stops them from double-teaming Rakeem,” SU point guard Kaleb Joseph said after the Louisville game. “I think it’s a huge reason why Rak had such a great game.” Commentslast_img read more