Syracuse, 3-0 After Three Games, Travels to Maryland for its First Road Test

Friday, Nov 17, 2023 at 11:57 am by Sports Editor

By Carson Fowler | @CarsonFowlerTV

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Coach Jack said early on this season, “Defense is what kept us [Syracuse] out of the NCAA tournament last year.”

Through three games, it’s clear defense has been a focal point for Coach Jack’s squad. SU is holding opponents to 33% from the floor, forcing more than 20 turnovers per game, and out-rebounding teams by a margin of 17.

This team loves to set the tone early in its games. Set up the defense, get out in transition, and get the immediate action going on offense. SU is scoring 25 points off of 21 turnovers forced per game. Speeding up opponents — turning defense into offense — has benefited the Orange immensely, especially considering how much this team loves to get out and score in transition. Now, let’s not pretend Lafayette, Central Connecticut State, and Coppin State are world-beaters, but these are games that help a team find its identity.

This weekend, things get real, real fast for Syracuse women’s basketball. SU hits the road for its first power-five matchup of the season at noon, Sunday, Nov. 19, vs. the 20th-ranked Maryland Terrapins.

This Terps team is no joke, and don’t let their 1-2 record fool you (losses to No. 1 South Carolina and No. 8 UConn). Maryland, led by long-time head coach Brenda Frese, has done nothing but win since Frese got to the program. She’s a proven winner with 20 consecutive winning seasons, 14 conference titles, three final fours, and a National championship in 2006.

So, what does Syracuse need to do to get a win in the Xfinity Center? Two things — play physical defense and get to the bigs early and often. Maryland starts five guards, with only one big in its rotation (Allie Kubek). SU lacked a lot of size last year, and it hurt the Orange against bigger opponents. In the off-season, Coach Jack addressed the issue, bringing in graduate transfer Izabel Varejão, a 6-foot-4 center, who spent her past four years at Michigan, and four-star high school basketball recruit Alyssa Latham, a six-foot-two forward from Illinois.

The Terrapins have a minus-14 rebounding margin through three games and rank near dead-last in the NCAA in scoring defense (89.7 PA).

The Terps leading scorer is Shyanne Sellers (20.7 PPG), a six-foot-two junior from Aurora, OH. Freshman shooting guard Sophie Burrows will likely be Sellers’ primary defender in this game. Burrows’ speed and length make for a good matchup with Sellers, who likes to push the pace of place and use her tall frame to get to the basket.

Syracuse is 0-5 vs. Maryland all-time. The last time these two teams matched up was 2015, when SU fell 82-64. I expect this game to be much closer than in years past, especially considering the size advantages that SU has over Maryland. Catch the game live this Sunday, Nov. 19, on Big Ten Network at noon.