Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cornell at Syracuse Game Previews

The Syracuse University men's basketball team will face Cornell at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Carrier Dome. The game will be televised by ESPNU with Rich Hollenberg and Tim Welsh on the call.
Below is the list of channel numbers for ESPNU in the Syracuse area:
  • Time Warner: Channel 370 (SD & HD)
  • Verizon Fios: Channel 73 (SD) and 573 (HD)
  • DirectTV: Channel 208 (SD & HD)
  • Dish Network: Channel 141 (SD &HD)
  • New Visions: Channel 73 (SD) and 759 (HD)
The game can also be streamed online through Watch ESPN or by using the Watch ESPN app for tablets and mobile devices.
Radio You can listen to the game on the Syracuse IMG Radio Network. In Syracuse you can listen on 99.5 FM. The game is also available on 88.3 FM through WAER. You can also hear the game on satellite radio on Sirius 157, XM 193 and SiriusXM 193.

The first 20 minutes of last season's men's basketball opener between Cornell and Syracuse gave absolutely no preview of what was to come, for either team. In fact, they told an out and out lie.
The Big Red forgot it was playing before nearly 25,000 fans in the Carrier Dome, against one of the nation's top teams, and — fueled by an unconscious 20 first-half points from guard Nolan Cressler — raced to a 36-22 lead with 4:17 left in the first half. A late Orange spurt pulled the Orange to within six at the break and served as a springboard into the second half as Syracuse took the lead for good with 14:56 to play and never looked back in winning, 82-60.
What transpired after that is well-documented: Syracuse won its first 25 games and ascended to No. 1 in the land, while Cornell would win only twice all season and languish at the bottom of the Ivy League and, indeed, most all of Division I.
Fast forward to Wednesday night, and Cornell (6-6) sees a golden opportunity to perhaps finish what it started last year when it gave the Orange (8-4) all it could handle. Although the aforementioned Cressler is no longer with the Red, after transferring to Vanderbilt, the Red has seniors Galal Cancer and Shonn Miller back in the fold after both missed all of last season.
Miller, named on Monday as the Ivy League Player of the Week for the second time this season, is especially excited for the 6 p.m. New Year's Eve clash with its upstate rival.
"I traveled with the team last year, and it hurt to just sit there and watch and not be able to do anything," said the Red's leading scorer and rebounder. "I'm really looking forward to the opportunity. ... I feel like the guys all have confidence, knowing that they could hang with them like that without me last year. And I feel like I can add different things to the team that could put us over the hump and compete."
Cornell is coming off a disappointing 59-52 overtime loss to Saint Peter's (N.J.) University on Sunday at Newman Arena, a game in which Cornell turned the ball over 20 times and couldn't capitalize on a defensive effort that held the Peacocks scoreless for nearly eight minutes to open the game.
"For us, our measuring stick is, 'Are we getting better?' and we didn't get better (on Sunday)," fifth-year coach Bill Courtney said. "We went backward a little bit with all the turnovers. No matter what the outcome of the Syracuse game is, I just want us to play well."
The Orange, guided by Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, scored an 85-67 victory over Long Beach State on Sunday at the dome, as SU scoring leader Rakim Christmas and Michael Gbinije scored 24 points apiece. Christmas was named ACC Player of the Week on Monday after averaging a double-double in wins over Colgate (78-43) and Long Beach.
Cornell's scoring leader is also coming off a strong week that garnered him weekly league recognition. Miller (16.8 ppg.), who's averaging 26 points and nearly 12 rebounds over his last three games, was named Ivy League Player of the Week after collecting 26 points and a career-high 15 rebounds in a 75-57 win on Dec. 23 at Siena, and then had 24 points — including the game-tying 3-pointer with 31 seconds to play — and 11 boards in Sunday's home loss to the Peacocks.
"He played really, really hard for us," Courtney said. "He played 40-plus minutes, he's making shots and dominating on the glass. We need some other guys to step up and help him, he didn't get much help from his teammates (Sunday) and we need guys to step up a little bit."
Miller is also tops in rebounding for the Red, at 8.4 per game. Sophomore guard Robert Hatter is averaging 12.9 points and senior guard Cancer is next at 10.0 ppg.
Christmas leads the Orange at 17.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, and is followed by Trevor Cooney (13.1 ppg.) and Chris McCullough (11.2 ppg.).
NOTES: Boeheim, in his 38th season at his alma mater, is 956-324 and has never lost to Cornell. The Big Red's last win over Syracuse came in 1968, a 94-82 victory at Cornell's Barton Hall. SU has won 33 straight since. ... Gbinije's point total in the win over Long Beach State was a career high. Trevor Cooney added 16 points and made at least three 3-pointers for a fourth straight game. ... Both CU and SU are holding their opponents to around 37 percent shooting from the field; Cornell is shooting 40.7 percent from the floor while the Orange is shooting 45.7 percent. ... Syracuse's press rattled Long Beach into 11 first-half turnovers, resulting in 20 points. ... Syracuse jumps into ACC play on Saturday at Virginia Tech; Cornell has three more non-conference games before beginning Ivy League play on Jan. 17 at home against Columbia.
CU men's basketball
Wednesday's game: Cornell (6-6) at Syracuse (8-4)
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Carrier Dome (49,250), Syracuse
Radio: WHCU (870)
TV: ESPNU (Time Warner channel 370)

Syracuse welcomes a familiar foe into the Carrier Dome on Wednesday as the Cornell Big Red give the Orange their final non-conference test.
The Matchup: Syracuse (8-4) vs. Cornell (6-6)
Date: 12/31/14
Time: 6:00pm Eastern
Location: Carrier Dome (Syracuse, NY)
Television: ESPNU

Key Players
G/F Michael Gbinije: Gbinije has stepped up his game in recent weeks, shooting 60% from the floor over his last six outings. During that stretch, he is also scoring at a high rate, shooting well from the outside and distributing the ball well. He gives the Orange offense a new dynamic and opens things up for everybody else.
SG Trevor Cooney – Syracuse: The improvement of Cooney over the last six games has really helped Syracuse on the offensive end. Over that span, he is shooting much better from the outside, taking defenders off the dribble and being a creator for others with the basketball. This is another great opportunity for Cooney to continue his ascent with conference play on the horizon.
SG Galal Cancer – Cornell: Cancer is a sharpshooting two guard who distributes well and rebounds well for a guard. He is the team’s best on-ball defender as well. Look for the Big Red to try to get him some open looks from the outside as they try to shoot over the zone.
PF Shonn Miller – Cornell: Miller does it all for the Big Red. He is their leading scorer, rebounder, one of their better outside shooters, leads the team in blocks and free-throw shooting. The Syracuse zone will key on Miller throughout Wednesday’s matchup.

Cornell Offense vs. Syracuse Defense
Usually when Cornell comes into the Carrier Dome, they have an abundance of outside shooters who really test the perimeter of the Syracuse zone. While the Big Red certainly have their share of marksmen, they are not as proficient as in years past.
Cornell is only shooting 34% from three-point range as a team and only has one player shooting over 40% from distance in reserve guard Darryl Smith. Besides him, Galal Cancer, Robert Hatter and Shonn Miller are all capable shooters. That group will test the Orange zone.
Look for solid ball movement to try to get open looks from the outside from Cornell. Syracuse will respond by pushing the zone out a little further than normal, as the Big Red does not have the interior players to hurt Syracuse inside.
The aforementioned Miller only stands 6-foot-7, 210 pounds. The other prominent forward is 6-foot-9 David Onuorah. He is an average rebounder, does not respond well to physical play, can be foul prone and is a below average offensive player.

Syracuse Offense vs. Cornell Defense
Cornell plays primarily man, but will mix in some zone looks from time to time. They are not a particularly strong defensive team and have a big weakness inside. Rakeem Christmas will be a big problem for the Big Red. Look for Syracuse to feed him inside early and often.
This is also a game where freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph could get things going. He has a solid matchup senior Devin Cherry. Joseph should be able to find Christmas or Chris McCullough off the pick and roll.
The hot shooting of both Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije could come into play if Cornell decides to double the Syracuse frontcourt players. With a big size advantage inside, the Big Red may try to send extra help when the Orange throw the ball into the post.
That should free up Cooney and Gbinije for looks off of the inside-out ball movement. If they continue to shoot the ball well, as they have over the last five or six games, Syracuse is very difficult to defend for any team. Even more so for a team with a significant disadvantage inside.
Off the bench, Tyler Roberson could be in line for a strong performance. His size and physicality inside will give Cornell trouble.

Final Thoughts
Syracuse should win this one by 20+ and enter conference play on a three-game winning streak. Considering how well they have been playing and how much they have been improving, the Orange seems ready for the next challenge. 
Last year’s season-opening Cornell-Syracuse matchup got very interesting, with the Big Red leading 36-22 in the first half and 38-32 at halftime before the Big Red faltered down the stretch to lose, 82-60. Cornell then lost 25 more games, while Syracuse started the season 25-0.
We’re lucky to have Wes Cheng, managing editor of The Juice Online, to help make sense of this year’s edition of the Big Red/Orange series:
IHO: Tell us about The Juice Online.
WC: The Juice (then called The Big Orange) was founded in 1992, one of approximately 50 independent publications devoted to the coverage of its school’s athletics programs. In 2002, it became a full-color, glossy magazine which was owned by Fox Sports. The print product ceased publication in June of 2010 and was relaunched as The Juice Online in December of 2010. In February 2012, The Juice Online partnered with SportsNet New York, the official television home of the New York Mets and New York Jets. As part of’s Blog Network, The Juice Online supplements SNY’s coverage of more than 125 college football and basketball games, as well as other college sports programming.
IHO: What are the major story lines with Syracuse?
WC: The last six seasons have been unprecedented successes for the program. Starting in the 2008-09 season, the Orange has averaged 29.5 wins a season, which is the best six-year stretch in program history. During that time, SU has reached the Final Four and the Elite Eight, something that has also never happened. I say all of this because Syracuse is the most vulnerable it’s been since 2008. The Orange lost its top scorer (CJ Fair), top bench player (Jerami Grant), one of its interior defenders (Baye Keita) and clutch guard (Tyler Ennis). In past years, the Orange has been able to reload on the fly, but that appears to have finally caught up to SU as they have four losses in its non-conference schedule, the most since the 2007-08 season, which is also the last time SU missed the NCAA Tournament.

IHO: Who are the stars for Syracuse?
WC: Trevor Cooney is consistently one of the most talked about players in an Orange uniform. He is SU’s top outside shooter, but got off to a horrific start to the season. At one point, he was shooting just 27 percent from beyond the arc. But in five of his last six games, he’s hit at least three 3-pointers and has raised his outside shooting percentage to above 35 percent. Another player to watch for is Michael Gbinije, who is averaging 17.6 points over his last three games. Gbinije is a jack of all trades, playing wing, shooting guard and point guard. Coach Boeheim has always been on Gbinije about being more aggressive, and Gbinije showed how good he can be in a win over Long Beach State on Sunday. He scored a game-high 24 points, while adding eight assists and six rebounds. But Syracuse’s most important player is Rakeem Christmas. Aside from leading the team with 16.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, he’s also the team’s best interior defender. The one problem with Christmas is that — even as a senior — he’s still committing silly fouls, and there isn’t a ton of depth behind him. The Orange has a ton of problems whenever Christmas is in foul trouble.
IHO: Predictions for the game? 
WC: I know that Syracuse has won 34 straight games against the Big Red, but Syracuse also had a nine-game winning streak against St. John’s that was snapped earlier this year. If Robert Hatter and Shonn Miller can get things going from downtown, maybe another long-standing streak will go down, as well. That being said, I still see the Orange winning by double-digits. 72-60 Syracuse.

Syracuse will wrap up the 2014 calendar year when it hosts Cornell on Wednesday evening. To get us prepped for the game, we sat down with our friend Michael Tony over at IvyHoopsOnline to get a scouting report for the upcoming game.
The Juice Online: Tell us about IvyHoopsOnline.
Michael TonyIvyHoopsOnline is made up of writers from each of the Ivy League’s eight schools. IHO came into existence in the summer of 2011 and has quickly made its mark on the tight-knit Ivy basketball community.
TJO: What are the major story lines with Cornell?
MT: Cornell went 2-26 last year, and the season was every bit as ugly as that record indicates. Then the Big Red’s leading scorer in 2013-14, Nolan Cressler, peaced out to transfer to Vanderbilt. Re-enter Shonn Miller. The 2012-13 first-team All-Ivy forward missed last year’s disaster due to injury but hasn’t disappointed upon his return, notching 16.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game this season. With Miller leading the way, Cornell has turned heads by already tripling its win total from last season, going 6-6 so far.
TJO: Who should we be on the lookout for?
MT: The problem is Miller hasn’t had a lot of help from Cornell’s other standouts. The Big Red do have a talented backcourt with Devin Cherry, Robert Hatter and Galal Cancer, but they are all turnover-prone, especially Cherry, who averages 4.5 turnovers per game and coughed up the ball seven times in Cornell’s loss to St. Peter’s on Sunday.
TJO: What are your predictions for this game?
MT: Cornell gave the Orange more than they bargained for in last season’s opener, leading Syracuse 36-22 at one point and 38-32 at halftime. Don’t be surprised if Miller’s offensive prowess and this streaky backcourt make things difficult for Syracuse early in this one. Still, I don’t see this game being very close by game’s end. I’ll take Syracuse, 76-59.

Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse University and Cornell University first met on the basketball hardwood on Feb. 16, 1901.
That was the first year Syracuse fielded a basketball team. It marked the second official game in school history.
Syracuse beat Cornell 18-15. The win set a precedent in the series between the two Central New York schools. More often than not over the years, Syracuse has beaten Cornell. Syracuse holds an 88-31 edge in the all-time series.
Syracuse and Cornell will meet again on Wednesday night at the Carrier Dome. The Orange has won 34 straight against the Big Red. Cornell's last win over Syracuse came in the 1968-69 season.
Syracuse brings an 8-4 record into tonight's game. This will be SU's final non-conference game before opening ACC play on Saturday at Virginia Tech.
Cornell is currently 6-6, which is a huge improvement over last year when the Big Red went 2-26. The Big Red's record could be even better but for a few excruciating losses. Cornell lost to Penn State by a point, to Drexel by two points and to Saint Peter's in overtime.
Here are five things to watch as Syracuse takes on the Big Red:
 A secondary shooter
In Syracuse's first 10 games of the season, Trevor Cooney was the only Orange player to make more than two 3-pointers in a game.
So while it's very nice that Cooney has gone 18-for-40 from 3-point range over the last six games, it's not as important as finding a second perimeter threat. In fact, the two go hand-in-hand.
Two games ago, Ron Patterson went 3-for-6 from 3-point range against Colgate. His shooting helped Cooney go 4-for-9 in that game.
In SU's last game, Michael Gbinije went 4-for-6 from 3-point range against Long Beach State. Again, Cooney went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Syracuse needs a second 3-point threat in addition to Cooney. In the last two games, Patterson and Gbinije have provided that threat and Syracuse's offense has looked as good as it has all season. Can the Orange keep that going?
Cornell's seniors
If Cornell is going to pull off the upset, the Big Red will need big performances from a trio of seniors: Shonn Miller, Galal Cancer and Devin Cherry.
Miller, a 6-7 forward, leads Cornell in both scoring and rebounding with 16.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Miller sat out all of last year after injuring his shoulder near end of the 2012-13 season.
Cancer also missed the entire 2013-14 season, but for an entirely different reason. The 6-2 guard quit the team on the final weekend of the 2012-13 season and didn't play last year. He has worked his way back onto the roster and is averaging 10 points per game.
Cherry, a 6-3 guard, is a solid Ivy League player. He's averaging 9.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and a team-high 3.7 assists per game.
Rebounds, boards, caroms
Whatever you want to call it, the act of recovering a missed shot should be a key component to tonight's game between Syracuse and Cornell. And the numbers favor Syracuse.
Syracuse has been a very good rebounding team this season, while Cornell has struggled on the boards.
Syracuse ranks 40th in the NCAA for rebound margin, out-rebounding its opponents by 6.8 boards per game.
Cornell, on the other hand, has been giving up more rebounds than it has retrieved this season. Cornell has a negative rebounding margin of minus-1.5. That ranks 252nd in the country.
If Syracuse controls the defensive glass, the Orange will limit Cornell's offense to just one shot per possession. That will put pressure on Cornell to make a high percentage of its shots. Conversely, Syracuse should be able to extend its offensive possessions.
 SU's turnovers
Syracuse's turnovers have been the topic of much discussion during the early part of the season, but the subject remains relevant.
Syracuse is turning the ball over 13.4 times a game. That's a lot. But that's not the whole story.
In its eight wins, Syracuse has turned the ball over 12.2 times per game. In losses to California, Michigan, St. John's and Villanova, the Orange has averaged 15.7 turnovers.
That's a critical difference. It means a little more than three possessions per game. Give Syracuse three more opportunities to score against Michigan in a game the Orange lost by three points. Give Syracuse three more possessions against Villanova and maybe the Orange wins in regulation.
Syracuse has done a better job of taking care of the ball lately. In recent wins over Colgate and Long Beach State, the Orange has turned it over just 9.5 times per game.
McCullough: The missing man
The struggles for SU freshman Chris McCullough continued against Long Beach State on Sunday. McCullough made just one out of three shots from the field and finished with seven points. He managed to get to just two rebounds. Those two rebounds marked a season-low for the 6-10 forward.
In SU's last four games, McCullough has averaged 4.7 points on 3-for-19 shooting and he's pulled down just 5.2 rebounds in those games.
Those numbers are a far cry from McCullough's stats in the first eight games of the season. In those games, McCullough was averaging 14.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

Syracuse vs. Cornell
Game DetailsWednesday, Dec. 31 | Syracuse, N.Y. | 6 p.m. | Carrier Dome
Game CoverageTV: ESPNU/ESPN3 | Radio: Syracuse IMG Network
Video | Audio | Live Stats
Twitter: @cuse
Syracuse LinksNotes | News | Roster Schedule
Cornell LinksNotes | News | Roster | Schedule

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse fans can start their New Year's festivities at the Carrier Dome when the Orange hosts Cornell. Tipoff on Wednesday, Dec. 31 is set for 6 p.m.

Tickets for Wednesday's game are available online, by phone (1-888-DOMETIX) or in person at the Carrier Dome Box Office (Gate B). The game will be televised on ESPNU and ESPN3. Fans not in attendance can listen to the action on the Syracuse IMG Radio Network and its flagship TK99 (99.5 FM). Live audio will be available on CuseTV on Subscriptions to CuseTV are available at daily, monthly and yearly rates.

What to Watch For – Syracuse (8-4)
1. Through just 12 games this season, senior Rakeem Christmas has already posted a career high in points. He has tallied 206 points this season, surpassing his previous career high of 205 points, which he recorded as a sophomore in 2012-13. Christmas leads the team and ranks third in the ACC in scoring, averaging 17.2 points per game.
2. Syracuse has two of the top shot blockers in the ACC. Senior Rakeem Christmas and freshman Chris McCullough are tied for second in the league with a 2.25 blocks per game average. As a team, the Orange ranks third in the ACC.
3. Junior Michael Gbinije tallied a career-high 24 points in Syracuse's win against Long Beach State. He was 10-for-13 from the field, including 4-for-6 from three-point range. Gbinije also dished out a personal-best eight assists against the 49ers. He has reached double figures in scoring in five of the last six games.

What to Watch For – Cornell (6-6)
1. Cornell has won four of its last six games, improving its record to 6-6. The Big Red is coming off a 59-52 overtime loss to St. Peter's on Sunday.
2. Shonn Miller leads a group of three Cornell players who are averaging double figures in scoring. Miller is scoring 16.8 points per game. The trio also includes Robert Hatter (12.9 ppg.) and Galal Cancer (10.0 ppg.). Miller also leads the team on the boards (8.4 rpg.) and has blocked a team-high 22 shots.
3. Bill Courtney is in his fifth season at the helm of the Cornell program. Previously, Courtney served as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech, Virginia, Providence, George Mason and Bowling Green.

Syracuse leads the series between the two schools, 88-31, and has won the last 34 meetings. The Big Red's last win against the Orange was a 93-81 victory on Dec. 4, 1968.

Syracuse opens ACC play on Saturday when it travels to Blacksburg, Va. to face Virginia Tech.

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