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TENNIS : Orange heads back out on road to face difficult Texas Christian squad

first_img Comments After the Orange missed yet another chance at playing in the NCAA tournament last season, head coach Luke Jensen knew he needed to get his team over the hump if it wanted to compete for a spot in 2011-12.During the offseason, Jensen restructured the Orange’s schedule, filling the slate with more highly touted programs to increase SU’s strength of schedule. When the tournament’s selection committee sees the increased level of competition, Jensen hopes it’ll translate to a berth in the tournament.‘If you see our schedule this year compared to years past, we’ve had very good records, but it didn’t get us into the NCAA (tournament),’ Jensen said. ‘2012 is really the next phase of a changing landscape, and that is we have to schedule to get into the NCAA tournament.’ Jensen and his squad will begin that next phase when SU travels to Fort Worth, Texas, to take on a strong Texas Christian program this Saturday at 11 a.m. The Orange will play its second consecutive game against a tough opponent on the road to start the season, reflecting Jensen’s plan to earn a spot in the tournament.Typically, Jensen said he hasn’t scheduled single matches against distant opponents because it’s too costly for the university. In the past, Jensen has tried to squeeze two or three matches into a weekend road trip, but this season, the head coach said he believes the $5,000 it cost to head to Fort Worth will be worth it in the long run.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘We’re going to Texas to spend a lot of money on one match, and that’s usually not the case,’ Jensen said. ‘Usually we try to get two or three matches to justify the expenditure, so it’s an investment into playing better competition.’SU’s upcoming match against the Horned Frogs will also provide an opportunity for early-season improvements and adjustments for the Orange. Jensen said he defines winning by learning and hopes that Saturday’s contest will offer a lesson of sorts to kick-start his team. The sooner SU can start landing punches against big-time opponents, the better off the Orange will be at tournament time.Senior captain Emily Harman also believes a stronger schedule will benefit the Orange players earlier in the season.‘In past years, our schedule has hurt us a bit just because we haven’t seen that level of competition up until that point where we have to win in order to reach the NCAA tournament,’ Harman said. ‘Our coach has done a fantastic job at getting many more higher ranked teams, and that’s going to be a very large stepping stone for us to really make the next move for this program.’Although Syracuse has lacked strong competitors on its schedule for the last few years, sophomore Maddie Kobelt said she believes the team is ready to step up and take on the challenge.It starts with executing against TCU on Saturday. By playing tougher opponents, Kobelt said the Orange will be motivated to maximize its potential to break out into the national spotlight.‘I think we’re ready for (a tougher schedule),’ Kobelt said. ‘This is what we want. When we play TCU, we just need to execute what we’ve been practicing because we’re all capable of beating any player we face on the court.’When SU travels down to Texas on Saturday, a new chapter will be written for Jensen and his squad. The Orange will play TCU for the first time in program history. Jensen will also be facing his old friend Dave Borelli, who is the Horned Frogs’ head coach and Jensen’s former coach when he played at Southern California.The alliance can only help Jensen in his quest for competition and eventually an NCAA championship.‘Our objective is to win a national title, and you can’t win a national title unless you get into the NCAA tournament,’ Jensen said. ‘If you don’t get into the NCAA tournament, then what’s the point?’awmirmin@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on January 18, 2012 at 12:00 pmlast_img read more

Beat writers predict Syracuse men’s basketball season record, MVP and X-Factor

first_img Published on November 4, 2018 at 8:14 pm Comments Last season, Syracuse received the final at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and rattled off three wins in five days to make the Sweet 16. This season, the expectations are higher from the start. The Orange are a consensus top-25 team across all major rankings and return all five starters, along with Elijah Hughes being eligible to play after sitting out last season.Here’s what our beat writers think the Orange will accomplish this season.Charlie DiSturcoReady for takeoffRecord: 24-7MVP: Tyus BattleX-Factor: OffenseA year removed from a Sweet 16 appearance, Syracuse returns all five of its starters — including star Tyus Battle, who’s been working on his shot all offseason. Tack on the fact that transfer Elijah Hughes and freshmen Jalen Carey and Buddy Boeheim will work into the rotation in 2018, and this SU team is ready to take that next step. It’s very rare to have a team both this experienced and deep in college basketball. While Syracuse was a very solid defensive team last year, it struggled offensively. That’s where the new additions will play a role. Hughes and Boeheim add another facet to the offense with their 3-ball — the Orange shot 31.8 percent from 3 as a whole — and Carey is a versatile point guard. There’s a lot to love about this Syracuse team, and if the SU offense can put it all together, they have the potential to make a lot of noise in the NCAA Tournament once again.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMatthew GutierrezFive-headed monsterRecord: 23-8MVP: Tyus BattleX-Factor: The BigsAll five starters back, quick guard off the bench, stellar 2-3 zone, finally some depth, blah, blah, blah. The last time SU was this hyped? Two years ago, and we all know how that season panned out. I look forward to seeing how Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard develop not so much in their ability to score — we saw them do that last season — but in how they engage their teammates. That’s the key, because we learned a year ago that three scorers aren’t enough to be consistent. Plus, can the bigs pose more of a threat in the paint? Can Syracuse generate more production off the pick-and-roll? Keep an eye there. Nonetheless, the Orange shouldn’t be overlooked with this much talent and depth. There’s a potential for a deep run come the Big Dance.Billy HeyenThe boys are backRecord: 25-6MVP: Tyus BattleX-Factor: Oshae BrissettFor a few spring months, the outlook of this season hung in the balance. Tyus Battle was involved in the NBA Draft process. But he came back. Battle should lead the Orange in scoring for the second-straight year, and Jim Boeheim expects increased depth to help SU play faster. But the difference between good and great will come down to Oshae Brissett. Does he settle in right around 15 points and nine rebounds a game, like last year? Or has he grown into a top-10 player in the ACC, someone who makes 35-plus percent of his 3-pointers and challenges to be an NBA lottery pick in June? Teams with one star — think Ben Simmons at LSU, or Markelle Fultz at Washington — rarely become memorable. Teams with two, like Carmelo Anthony and Hakim Warrick for the 2003 national champs, can be special. If Battle and Brissett both have grown, that’s exactly what this Syracuse team could be.center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more