MBB : Faster start important for Syracuse as it enters third-round game with Kansas State

first_img Comments Published on March 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm PITTSBURGH – Dion Waiters has a feeling Syracuse won’t come out sluggish on Saturday.After three tough contests in a row, he sees an attitude change in his teammates. The opening minutes against Kansas State, he believes, are going to go the Orange’s way.‘I feel as though we’re going to come out ready,’ Waiters said. ‘I can see it in everybody’s face. Everybody, the way they’re talking about it. We’re going to come out to a great start tomorrow.’If the top-seeded Orange (32-2) starts out hot against the No. 8 seed Wildcats (22-10), it will be a break from Syracuse’s recent trend. SU has trailed at halftime in two of its three postseason games, and in its last game of the regular season against Louisville, the Orange didn’t lead until almost 13 minutes in. That stretch has led to three single-digit wins and Syracuse’s second loss of the season.But Syracuse expects that to change at 12:15 p.m. in the Consol Energy Center on Saturday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘It’s definitely important,’ forward James Southerland said. ‘If we throw the first punch, basically, I feel like we’ll have them on their heels, and we’ll be ready instead of giving them confidence by letting them throw the first punch.’Syracuse hasn’t thrown the first punch since Feb. 25, when it ran out to a 14-point halftime lead against Connecticut.The flatness to start games cost the Orange a shot at the Big East tournament title. Cincinnati buried eight 3-pointers and took a 34-17 lead after 15 minutes of action. Thursday, it nearly cost SU a birth in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.No. 16 UNC Asheville jumped out to a 34-30 halftime lead while Syracuse’s offense sputtered.C.J. Fair made it clear that underestimating the undersized Bulldogs had nothing to do with it.‘We didn’t take them lightly,’ he said. ‘We just came out a little sluggish against them.’Part of the issue has been the early struggles by seniors Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine. Head coach Jim Boeheim said after the loss to Cincinnati those seniors have determined Syracuse’s success for most of this year.Joseph is 3-of-18 with just 10 points and seven rebounds in the first halves of the last four games. Jardine hasn’t scored in three of those four halves and has just two points, six rebounds and eight assists.The seniors have been able to turn it on after halftime, but Jardine knows they’ll have to show up for the entire game if SU hopes to move on to the Sweet 16.‘We can’t allow that to happen as we advance in the tournament,’ he said. ‘We got to bring it for 40 minutes. The guys are looking to us to bring that intensity and bring that sense of urgency to the basketball game on both ends of the floor.’The explanations for SU’s slow starts have varied. Waiters said it was partly just misfortune, good shots simply weren’t falling. Southerland thought it was a lack of defensive awareness and pointed to Cincinnati’s eight first-half 3s as an example. He also added SU has had a lack of communication on the floor.But whatever has ailed the Orange at the start of games, it feels confident it will come out strong against Kansas State.Especially after a slow start almost sent it home early Thursday.‘Yesterday we got our jitters out,’ Fair said. ‘Tomorrow’s a new day. Everybody’s just got to keep being aggressive like they’ve been. Our shots are going to fall. I’m still confident in each one of my teammates to come out there and play well.’zjbrown@syr.educenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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