16 Sep

3 things Syracuse said before hosting Fordham in NCAA Tournament 1st round

first_imgNo. 3 seed Syracuse (24-8, 11-5 Atlantic Coast) hosts an NCAA tournament game for the second time in four years when it welcomes No. 14 seed Fordham (25-8, 13-3 Atlantic 10) on Saturday afternoon in the Carrier Dome. SU head coach Quentin Hillsman and players spoke about hosting the matchup, the return of freshman Emily Engstler and more topics relating to the big dance. Here are three takeaways from Friday’s media availability.Homebodies Jim Boeheim Court looked different than it has at other points this season on Friday afternoon. Branded on the court in sleek, black-lettering was “NCAA” instead of the customary “ACC.”Last Monday, when ESPN leaked the NCAA women’s tournament bracket hours ahead of the scheduled selection show, a text was fired among SU’s team group chat, star point guard Tiana Mangakahia said. A celebration kicked off early as Hillsman’s season-long goal to be a top-four seed was fulfilled. SU now has a “premium” advantage, Hillsman said, for at least the first weekend of the tournament.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Our goal in the beginning of the year is to be sitting where we are today and hosting the first two rounds of NCAA tournament…we are very excited for tomorrow.”The last Syracuse team to host in the first round went to the Final Four. In 2016, SU faced Army and held the Black Knights to a 36.4-field goal percentage and 6-of-22 from deep. Many opposing teams have been asked about the Dome’s depth effect and it continued on Friday. No. 11 seed Quinnipiac redshirt-senior forward Jen Fay said shooting is “very hard” in the Dome. Edel Thonrton senior guard said the experience can be “overwhelming.” SU guard Isis Young said earlier this season that the Carrier Dome depth effect can be jarring. But sitting in her locker on Friday, Young stretched her legs and mocked eating in the comfort of her own bed later tonight. She said she’s “excited” to stay in Central New York for at least the first part of the tournament.Syracuse owns a 10-3 home-record this season, only losing to eventual No. 1-seed Notre Dame and three-seeds Miami and North Carolina State. SU hasn’t dropped a game in the Dome’s confines in four years, losing to Arizona State in 2015. If the Orange are to proceed to next weekend, it’ll have to take care of home court. “We are very excited to play at home and we understand that this is the path we took to get to the championship,” Hillsman said. “Play our style” Hillsman’s message has been the same all season. And in last week’s ACC tournament, Syracuse’s margin-based offense carried it to the two wins it needed to solidify its seeding. Multiple players felt that the 92-85 quarterfinal win against Miami featured the offense at its best. SU connected on 14 3s, forced 15 turnovers and totaled 15 offensive rebounds. Young applauded SU for overcoming many multi-possession deficits and Engstler noticed how energetic the team looked. After an eventual semifinal loss to Notre Dame, SU had a couple days off, players said. Since they’ve returned, the team hasn’t watched film on Fordham’s top-10 scoring defense, Mangakahia said. Instead, the focus has been on the Orange’s shooting ability. Hillsman said that SU would need to execute its season-long gameplan on Saturday. “We need to score the ball,” Hillsman said. “If we can score then we can get into our pressure and then we’ll speed the game up. … They do a really good job of defending so we need to do a good job of putting the ball in the basket.” Back in action During the stretching-portion of SU’s practice on Friday, Engstler side-shuffled, back-peddled and joked with forward Digna Strautmane. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary. Engstler was back, prepping to play in her first game in nearly a month. Comments Engstler’s “roller-coaster” first season hit a roadblock when she didn’t travel with the team to Florida State on Feb. 28. The freshman didn’t go into much detail about what specifically caused her brief dismissal, opting to stay say in “in the past” and “taken care of now.” Earlier this year, Engstler was benched multiple times due to hustling issues and Hillsman said she “responded.” In 27 games played, she’s averaged just under 15 minutes per with 5.1 points and 4.6 boards an outing. Working with the guards on Friday, she drove the lane and featured the versatility that highlights her potential. She said she watched SU’s first two conference tournament games between exams and watched the third with her mom before rejoining the team after spring break. “At this point she’s back,” Hillsman said. “She’s a good player and we are looking forward to getting her into the lineup and her contributing right away.” Published on March 22, 2019 at 5:54 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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