To preview the match-ups in the Big East/SEC Challenge, the Big East & SEC Microsites are facing off in conversational analysis. Gerald Smith and Patrick Prendergast are going one-on-one to break down Florida facing Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.
Patrick Prendergast: In the battle for the right to wear bright orange where ever one goes and, oh yeah, to solidify a position near the top of the national rankings, #10 Florida (5-1) will take on #3 Syracuse (7-0) in a heavyweight battle at the Carrier Dome tonight. Syracuse has proven as tough and focused as they are deep, remaining undefeated despite the significant distractions created by the ongoing Bernie Fine controversy. The schedule for the Orange has not been all soft and doughy either. They took home the NIT Season Tip-Off title with victories over two good squads in Virginia Tech and Stanford. The Orange are lauded as one of the deepest teams in the country led by reigning Big East Player of the Week, 6’7” senior forward Kris Joseph (14.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG). The Gators have lost some experience and depth due to an injury to junior forward Erik Murphy.
How does Florida cope with Syracuse’s depth?
Gerald Smith: One of Florida’s coping mechanisms will be stretching and distorting Syracuse’s zone. Florida has a collection of guards that can shoot from deep: junior Kenny Boynton (18.5 PPG, 48.9% 3FG), senior Erving Walker (13.7 PPG, 33% 3FG), freshman Bradley Beal (17 PPG, 35.3% 3FG) and junior Mike Rosario (12 PPG, 48.6% 3FG). The Orange have way too much length and athleticism, though; Florida can’t settle for just shooting over the 2-3 zone. The Gators will have to attack the zone with drives and make jumpers in the few open areas. That might compact the Orangemen’s defense just enough to get a few open three-pointers — and just a few might be enough for Florida’s sharpshooters.