Trading snowy skies for warm sunshine only seemed to hurt Syracuse during their most recent stretch, as the Orange went 0-3 in the Bahamas last week while partaking in the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
The team dropped their first contest against formerly No. 23 ranked South Florida, who pulled away during the game’s latter half thanks to some dominant defense. Two days later, Buffalo did the same while spraying Syracuse from deep with 13 made triples.
Between those games though, Syracuse fought down the stretch against Minnesota, keeping stride with the Gophers, making them sweat, and earning something of a spiritual victory. But regardless, the Orange still lost that one as well, contributing to a less desirable 2-4 record.
They now find themselves back home, set to face another team more accustomed to cloudy skies and frozen tundras. As their neighbors to the East, the Colgate Raiders travel to the Carrier Dome today, also stumbling a bit amidst their own three-game losing skid.
Coming off losses to Niagara, Canisius, and Wagner, Colgate sits in the Patriot League’s basement with a 1-4 record. Naturally, the Orange are looking at this deflated Raiders team like Thanksgiving leftovers right now, hoping to swallow them up and get back on track.
So far this year, and especially during Syracuse’s last few games, 3-point defense has been a major concern. As it stands now, the Orange allow their opponents to shoot 36.4 percent from beyond the arc—ranking 305th worst nationally. Although Syracuse certainly needs to improve that flaw going forward, this matchup with Colegate offers them a slight breather, with the Raiders shooting 27.1 percent from deep—ranking 249th worst nationally.
Less threatened by long-range shooting, this opens the door for the Orange to concentrate their defense on crashing the class, which they need to emphasize against Colgate anyway.
Right now, the Raiders rebound at the offensive end at a far more respectable level, averaging 10.8 boards per game. That ranks top five across the Patriot League, and resembles a sneaky way for them to find extra points against Syracuse.
At the offensive end for the Orange, watch for Alaysia Styles to lead an onslaught on Colgate down low. Listed at six-foot-three, no active player on the Raiders roster possesses a frame suitable to stop her in the paint. Styles’s crafty skill set on the side likely gives Colgate trouble defending her as well, and her crisp 87.5 percent free throw shooting makes fouling her an unwise option all the same. No matter how you cut it, all signs point to the California native enjoying a stellar performance this afternoon.
But as Styles racks up points inside, watch for additional Colgate defenders to collapse on her as the game progresses. That will eventually set up Syracuse’s shooters with solid looks when kicking the ball out. Across her last three games, Christianna Carr is shooting a blistering 47.6 percent from deep, so finding her shots on sequences such as these must remain a high priority.
With Colgate carrying too many weaknesses that play into Syracuse’s strengths, this contest feels more likely than not to favor the home team. If all bodes well, it gives Vonn Read his third win as head coach with this program, and allows the Orange to stay undefeated all-time against the Raiders.