Syracuse: 2009 NCAA Tournament Capsule
Last NCAA Appearance: 2006, First Round loss to Texas A&M
Coach: Jim Boeheim (40-25 in 25 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
If you look at the Syracuse statistics, it is hard to find anybody who shoots under 45 percent from the floor. The team as a whole shoots an incredible 49.8 percent, ranking fourth in the nation. Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku are the main reason for that lofty number. Jackson, a 6-9 sophomore, is a part-time starter and Onuaku, the usual starter at the five spot, is tops in the nation with his 70.6 shooting percentage. And it is not like the 6-9 junior does not take a lot of shots. He averages 11.8 points per game.
The Orange average over 80 points per game and that means just about everybody has to do their fair share of scoring. Onuaku and Jackson are decent scorers, but the big three are Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris.
Why They Can Disappoint:
One of these days a team will shoot better from the floor than they do from the charity stripe. Syracuse’s free-throw shooting is pretty bad, but not that bad. The team hits just 63.5 percent from the line. Luckily, Flynn, Devendorf and Harris get to the line quite a bit and those three all shoot at least 72 percent from the stripe. But players like Onuaku and his 35.3 percent quickly bring the team percentage down. Sure most of Onuaku’s shots from the field are dunks, but how can somebody shoot twice as well from the floor as they do from the charity stripe? The other problem for Syracuse is the turnovers. The Orange will push the tempo and score a lot of points so some turnovers are understandable, but 15.5 per game is too many. The backcourt duo of Flynn and Devendorf are mostly to blame. Flynn is the point guard and he has to do better than 3.1 turnovers per game. Last year when he was a freshman Flynn only committed 2.7 turnovers. He was supposed to get better in that category this time around.
Who To Watch:
There are a lot of stars on this team, but Devendorf is the player who needs to have a good game for the Orange to make some noise in March. The 6-4 junior might not be the most prolific outside shooter on the team, that honor goes to Andy Rautins, but he is the most balanced guard. Devendorf can hit the outside shot, but he will also do plenty of damage around the basket. Devendorf has been pretty inconsistent in Big East play, which is also when he came back after missing two games due to an off-the-field incident. When his shot is off, or he is on the bench with foul trouble, the Orange offense has one less weapon.
Jonny Flynn, Sophomore, Guard
Eric Devendorf, Junior, Guard
Paul Harris, Junior, Forward
Rick Jackson, Sophomore, Forward
Arinze Onuaku, Junior, Forward
Kris Joseph, Freshman, Forward
Kristof Ongenaet, Senior, Forward
Andy Rautins, Junior, Guard
+ Following final Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!