The Syracuse men’s basketball team kicks off the 2012-2013 season in style as the “Battle on the Midway” between the Orange and the San Diego State Aztecs takes place today on the USS Midway in San Diego, California at 4:00.
The Aztecs are without question led by forward Jamaal Franklin, who was the Mountain West player of the year last season. Franklin is a versatile player who averaged 17.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in leading San Diego State to a 26 win season a year ago. The Orange are going to have to hit the glass hard and box him out to limit his opportunities. Franklin is also accompanied by senior Chase Tapley, who was the second leading scorer in the Mountain West behind Franklin.
Like Syracuse, The Aztecs have a lot of new faces this season, including sophomore transfer JJ O’Brien. O’Brien sat out a season after transferring from Utah, and will look to make an immediate impact as a starter in today’s game. At Utah, O’Brien averaged 6.4 points and 5.5 rebounds a game in his freshman season.
For Syracuse, the debut for DeJuan Coleman, Jerami Grant, and Trevor Cooney are highly anticipated. All three player performed well in the preseason, and all three should be able to step right in and make plays for this team throughout the evening tonight.
For an opening game of the season in college basketball, you never know what you are going to get when you play a quality opponent. Syracuse cake walked through their two exhibitions, but it will be interesting to see what this team is really made of now that the games count and are against more talented opponents. The ball movement from Syracuse must continue to be smooth and quick, and the Orange will need to pound the ball down low against a SDSU team that loves to play small and run with the ball. This plays to a huge advantage for Jim Boeheim and company, who love to run with the ball themselves. If the Orange can get points in the paint, along with forcing bad shots from deep with the zone defense, I think Syracuse should win this one pulling away. Anything can happen in college basketball (particularly during the first game), but I don’t see the Aztecs hanging with the Orange in this one.
Come on out to kick it with me and watch the game at Rosie’s on Tipperary Hill in Syracuse!