Princeton may be the thinking man’s team, but Syracuse coach Ji
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ Princeton may be the thinking man’s team, but Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim says the Ivy League champs deserve high marks for brawn as well.
″People talk about all the physical advantages we enjoy, but if anything, they have more physical talent than we have,″ said Boeheim, whose 21st-ranked Orangemen (21-9) meet Princeton (22-5) Friday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
Princeton’s reputation as an irksome opponent is based on its methodical, team-oriented game against foes supposedly possessing better individual athletes.
With a collection of non-scholarship role players, the Tigers have come within a breath of upsetting Georgetown, Arkansas and Villanova in the past three tournaments.
But Boeheim doesn’t buy the line that Princeton lacks athleticism.
″They’re as big as we are. Their front line is 6-8, 6-8, 6-6. They’re bigger than us at the two forward positions and Conrad (McRae, Syracuse’s center) might as well be 6-8,″ said Boeheim, who often chastises his 6-10 center for not being aggressive enough on the boards.
″Their backcourt is as quick or quicker than our backcourt,″ Boeheim said Tuesday as the Orangemen got in a last workout at home before their trip to Worcester, Mass.
″They are going to get good shots every time down the floor. They don’t turn over the ball. You have to have a certain type of player to play that way. All five of their guys can pass, catch, shoot and dribble,″ said Boeheim.
Although the 11th-seeded Tigers have been the team nobody wanted to play in past tournaments because of their style, the Orangemen aren’t overly concerned about Princeton’s deliberate pace.
″In the past, it would have been a problem,″ said sophomore guard Adrian Autry. ″But this year, mainly what we’ve played has been half-court offense and defense. The only time we’ve pressed is when we’re down and trying to make a comeback.″
Syracuse is 12-4 this season in games decided by seven points or less and hasn’t topped 78 points in its last nine games. The Orangemen scored 55, 70 and 56 points in winning the Big East tournament title last weekend.
″We can’t go into the game saying, ’Oh, it’s Princeton,″ said Lawrence Moten, the Big East rookie of the year. ″We have to hold our heads high. We’re not the underdog. They are.
″If we do what we do best, we’ll have no problem,″ Moten said.
Certainly, the Orangemen will be more on their toes than they were for last year’s first-round game, when 15th-seeded Richmond knocked them out of the tournament and into the record book as the first No. 2 seed to lose in the opening round.
″We don’t want that to happen again,″ said Autry. ″We had a great season up to that point, but after that it was easy to forget what kind of season we had.
″Now, anything we accomplish is a lot more than anyone said we could,″ he said, since Syracuse started the season unranked and was picked to finish sixth in the Big East.