Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Posts Tagged ‘Eric Devendorf’

Big East Preview: #7 Syracuse

Posted by Zach on October 21, 2008

7. Syracuse Orange– Coach: Jim Boeheim (33rd season)

PG- Jonny Flynn (SO):
Flynn was the most valuable player for coach Boeheim as a freshman and will continue to fill that role as a sophomore. With injuries mounting and an unwavering dependence on Flynn’s scoring and passing, Boeheim played his freshman star 39.2 MPG in Big East play last season, including a stretch of games that lasted nearly a month where Flynn never left the court. For a senior leader, this number is somewhat understandable. For a freshman point guard who must run the offense, it’s completely unheard of. Boeheim knows that Flynn can be one of the top players at his position this season in what could be his last in Syracuse. The return of shooters Andy Rautins and Eric Devendorf should spread the floor and allow for Flynn not only more assist opportunities but also lanes to use his excellent penetrating ability and find the basket for easy layups.

SG- Eric Devendorf (JR)
: When junior leader Eric Devendorf tore his ACL in the tenth game of Syracuse’s 07-08 campaign, all of the experience the Orange had on their roster disappeared in a flash. Devendorf played his junior season with two years of starting and double-digit scoring experience under his belt, and his presence allowed Flynn more lanes to score and fellow freshman Donte Greene more open mid-range jumpers. Losing Devendorf also meant their best three-point shooter would now be on the shelf for the remainder of the season. It was a trying injury, but Devendorf is now back at full strength and ready to lead the Orange. His driving ability is unmatched in the Big East and his range from behind the arc, along with Rautins, gives Syracuse a two-headed weapon from outside.

SF- Paul Harris (JR): Harris is, hands down, the best rebounding small forward in the country. Nobody attacks the rim with the amount of ferocity and passion as Harris, who is listed at 6’5 but admits he’s even shorter. Starting in all of the Orange’s contests last year gave the junior valuable experience, something coach Boeheim feels is vital. Often a maddening player due to head-scratching turnovers and questionable shot selection, he just needs more and more minutes to make those mistakes and learn from them. Some felt Harris may be a one-and-done player when he arrived on campus. Although that was far from the truth, the talent is flowing and the production is tremendous for young Paul Harris.

PF- Kristof Ongenaet (SR)
: What Ongenaet brought to the table for Syracuse was clear: rebounding, toughness, defense and height. Never in my wildest imagination could I imagine he’d start for Cuse at any point in his career for one simple reason: he could not score. While Ongenaet was your classic post player who planted himself in the paint and clawed hard for every rebound and block, his game on offense was too much of a liability to start on a regular basis in the Big East. Then late February and early March rolled around and something clicked. In his last six games, Ongenaet averaged 8.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG and made 17 of 26 FG attempts. Now, Syracuse might have a two-dimensional force at the four spot.

C- Arinze Onuaku (JR): The superior play of Onuaku may mark the difference between a bubble team and a Big East title contender this season. The coaching staff got more out of their junior big man last year than they could have ever expected: 12.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG and the highest field-goal percentage in the Big East at 63%. While free-throw shooting is a mystery, Onuaku could emerge as one of the top post players in the conference this year, even as the third or fourth scoring option. When Onuaku played fellow top centers in the Big East, he more than held his own.

Bench: I mentioned in the Villanova preview that bringing a long-range weapon like Corey Fisher off the bench could be a huge factor. Sub Andy Rautins in for Fisher and Syracuse in for Villanova and you have the same story. Rautins tore his ACL playing for the Canadian Senior National Team in August of 2007 and never saw the court last year. His 41% against Big East opponents from deep in 06-07 gave Syracuse a one-two punch with Devendorf from outside, and they sorely missed his shooting last season. Rick Jackson should battle Ongenaet for playing time at the four. His versatility is needed, but Jackson needs to be aggressive and make his presence known on the court. Freshmen Kris Joseph and Mookie Jones are talented swingmen; Joseph is athletic and versatile while Jones is a surprisingly good shooter for his size. Scoop Jardine redshirting hurts the depth of the backcourt.

Backcourt: A-
Frontcourt: B
Bench: B-
Coaching: B+

Bottom Line:
Can Syracuse really miss the NCAA Tournament three years in a row? Not since the early 80’s has that occurred, and I don’t see it happening again this year. They’ve got a strong backcourt with Flynn capable of running an excellent point and Devendorf returning healthy to provide a multi-dimensional look. I like Onuaku to emerge as a fantastic center if he can stay on the court at the end of games. Paul Harris is still maturing and still producing. They just need to avoid losing games to Atlantic 10 teams at home and they have enough talent to make it back to March Madness. Rautins off the bench could be huge for this team; expect him to knock down some game-changing shots.

Key Non-Conference Games: CBE Classic vs. Florida, 11/28 vs. Virginia, 12/15 vs. Cleveland State, 12/20 @ Memphis
Key Conference Games: 1/17 vs. Notre Dame, 1/28 @ Providence, 2/7 @ Villanova, 2/14 vs. Georgetown
Most Valuable Player: Jonny Flynn
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA (Round of 32)

Posted in Big East Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Friday News And Notes

Posted by Zach on September 26, 2008

An edition of Friday’s News and Notes to catch up on this past weeks biggest college basketball headlines:

– Connecticut freshman Nate Miles is supposed to be a key cog for the Huskies ascent to the top of the college hoops rankings this season. The talented wing will be a sparkplug off the bench for Jim Calhoun…if he can stay out of trouble. Miles violated his restraining order 16 minutes after receiving it in Hartford yesterday, posting a $2,500 bond and is scheduled to go to court later this month. Miles came with a reputation out of the many high schools he attended for being a nuisance without much supervision. Calhoun hopes this is just a minor transgression for the budding freshman.

– One of the top coaches in the nation, Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, received a three-year extension on his already lengthy contract on Wednesday. The deal extends through the 2015-16 season and he will receive a raise from the $1.3 million he made last season. The Panthers have averaged nearly 27 wins per season under Dixon’s watch even if they’re not exactly a recruiting powerhouse. Dixon should be rewarded. Not many coaches could have rallied his team without stars like Levance Fields and Mike Cook to win the Big East tournament and receive a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

– Sticking with the Big East theme, good news for Syracuse fans came out early this week. Talented guard Eric Devendorf has received another year of athletic eligibility after being granted a hardship waiver due to last season’s devastating knee injury. For this upcoming season, Devendorf will be a junior athletic-wise. He forms a great backcourt with Johnny Flynn and returnee Andy Rautins for the Orange, who are looking to contend in the loaded conference.

– Kyle Whelliston chimes in with another gem. This time the topic is the newly-formed Great West conference that will form before the 2009-10 season. The name doesn’t tell the entire story- NJIT will be a member and New Jersey isn’t exactly considered a Western state. Whelliston points out the hardships these teams often have to go through scheduling games and flying coast-to-coast to get walloped by top-ranked teams looking for cupcakes. He also brings up the question of whether this conference will be rewarded with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, something the committee probably wants to avoid.  Texas Pan-American, NJIT, South Dakota, North Dakota, Houston Baptist and Utah Valley make up the current conference slate.

– This is only Insider, but Andy Katz’s blog catches up with three possible tournament teams this fall: Ohio State, Wake Forest and Nevada. Some gems: Matta thinks B.J. Mullens is more of a Greg Oden than a Kosta Koufos, meaning he’ll be someone planted firmly in the paint this season; the team hasn’t cleared its point guard situation, a big reason why I think they’ll finish behind Wisconsin who boast Trevon Hughes; Wake Forest has installed a Dick Bennett-style defense and their freshmen look great in workouts; Ishmael Smith should be ready for the season for Wake; Nevada coach Mark Fox managed to get North Carolina to come to Reno this season in a 2-for-1 deal.

– Luke Winn has a worthwhile article attempting to predict the breakout players for this season using possessions used and efficiency ratings. The article circles Dar Tucker of DePaul, LaceDarius Dunn of Baylor and Austin Daye of Gonzaga as potential breakout candidates. Tucker is a definite possibility, but will anyone notice on DePaul?  We’ll have our own list of breakout candidates when the season draws nearer.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and thanks for reading. More and more articles will be on the way as we head towards November.

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