The Orange will have one more tuneup against Colgate on Saturday before heading to Madison Square Garden to play the semifinals of the Dicks Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off.
COACHING CHANGES: Few teams in the NCAA were as bad as Colgate was last year. The Raiders went 7-23 and 4-10 in the Patriot League, their seventh losing season in the past decade. The abysmal performance led to the dismissal of head coach Emmett Davis. Colgate replaced Davis with Matt Langel, a disciple of former Penn and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy. During his seven years under Dunphy, Langel reached the NCAA tournament in six of those years. Colgate can only hope that Langel can change the culture at Colgate.
SCOUTING THE RAIDERS: The good news for Langel is that nine of the 10 rotation players last year are returning. One of those players includes forward Yaw Gyawu, who averaged 12.6 points and 4.5 rebounds last season. The senior has the ability to get to the lane, and enjoys being out in transition. Fellow senior center Nick Pascale was also a standout last year, averaging 7.3 points a game, while finishing fifth in the league in rebounding (6.6) and third in blocked shots (1.4). Langel will also reply on sharp shooter Mike Venezia, who is the Raiders’ best threat from beyond the arc (9.6 ppg, 38.1 3p%).
IN COLGATE’S LAST GAME: The Raiders are coming off a 68-41 loss to No. 13 Wisconsin on Wednesday. Ben Brust, a sophomore guard, scored a career-high 17 points, including four 3-pointers for the Badgers. Wisconsin was 8-of-14 from beyond the arc in the first half, and took a 42-20 lead into halftime. The Badgers scored just two points in the first eight minutes of the second half, but was never seriously threatened as Colgate shot just 34.8 percent from the field. The Raiders’ John Brandenburg led the way with 11 points and six rebounds.
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: Syracuse and Colgate are familiar opponents, as the teams have faced off against each other 163 times. The two clubs first played in 1901-02 and since then, Syracuse has a 118-45 record against the Raiders. The Orange has won the last 45 games, including a 100-43 blow out last year. The 57-point margin matched the largest win in Jim Boeheim’s coaching career, with Rick Jackson’s 18 points leading the way.