Syracuse continues its homestand when it hosts the Long Beach State 49ers on Thursday evening. Here is a scouting report for the game:
FINDING AN IDENTITY: Coach Dan Monson’s team is one of the younger teams in the Big West Conference, with only two seniors on the team. And it hasn’t been an easy start for the 49ers with a difficult schedule that has already included games against USC, North Carolina and Arizona. That makes LBSU’s strength of schedule 38th in the nation to this point. That number will get even more impressive as the 49ers travel to the Carrier Dome to face No. 4 Syracuse before shipping off to the midwest to play No. 7 Ohio State. The good news is that after a win over Loyola Marymount, Monson finally feels like his team is settling into a groove.
“They’re starting to create a little identity,” Monson said after the game. “The biggest thing is they are starting to become a team and have an identity and stay together through the ups and downs.” That identity will help a team that is expected to compete for a Big West title and another trip to the NCAA tournament.
SCOUTING THE 49ERS: Senior guard James Ennis leads Long Beach State in scoring (16.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.9 rpg), and is settling into his role as the team’s go to scorer. He was more of a slasher and spot-up shooter last season, but this season the offense is running more through him. In a 64-59 loss to Fresno on Monday, Ennis led the way with 23 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. He was actually so involved that during a stretch in the second half, he scored or assisted on 9 of 10 plays.
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: Syracuse has won both meetings between these two teams. They last met on December 13, 2008, with Syracuse winning 79-55. Arinze Onuaku’s 17 points and six rebounds paced four different players (Rick Jackson, Andy Rautins and Eric Devendorf) in double figures.
GAME INFORMATION: Thursday, Dec. 6, 8 p.m. in Syracuse. TV: ESPN2.