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Monday, June 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Hoosiers hope for trip to Elite 8

IUBB v Temple NCAA Carousel

Indiana and Syracuse may be forever linked in the history books by a certain shot in 1987, but tonight brings the chance for each team to write a new chapter.

The Hoosiers and Orange meet for the first time since a 76-63 Syracuse win in 1998 with an Elite Eight berth on the line between two programs doused in history. Tipoff is at roughly 9:45 p.m. EST at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

All postseason long, IU players and coaches have praised the Big Ten and the many styles of play they saw during the conference season. However, Syracuse brings something that even the Big Ten may not have truly prepared them for.

“Syracuse is unique because they’re so long and athletic,” sophomore forward Cody Zeller said. “They obviously play the zone defense that we haven’t seen as much this year. I don’t know if there is one team or players to make the comparison to, but we definitely got our work cut out for us. It’s what they’re known for, and it’s going to be tough for us.”

A departure from the one-man show of Khalif Wyatt for Temple against IU on Sunday, Syracuse sports a balanced offensive attack. Four players are in double figures, all within 2.7 points, from 14.5 to 11.8 points per contest.

The balance extends to the glass, where the Orange averages 38.7 boards per game — slightly more than IU’s mark of 38.4 — despite having no player averaging more than forward C.J. Fair’s 6.9.

Against Temple, senior guard Jordan Hulls injured his shoulder and wore a brace for most of the second half. Junior forward Will Sheehey was hit in the head. Both appeared fine during an open practice Wednesday in Washington. Hulls did not wear the support brace.

“Shoulder is good,” Hulls said. “Once it got loose, I was able to shoot well. The doctors are doing a great job of getting me back in shape, feeling good.”

The two teams are linked by more than just the championship game 26 years ago.

Orange freshman Jerami Grant was a high school teammate of junior guard Victor Oladipo while former IU signee Ron Patterson is now slated to join Syracuse in the fall.

The connection with perhaps the most bearing on tonight’s contest, though, is IU Coach Tom Crean, who brings three years of experience coaching against Syracuse in the Big East from his time as coach at Marquette.

Post players such as Zeller, the likes of which he did not have at Marquette, Crean said he has more options in attacking Syracuse’s signature zone defense.

“We didn’t necessarily have the low post ability,” Crean said. “It allows you to be a little bit more creative. I don’t think you can look at that zone and think you’re going to beat it any one way, but I don’t think you can look at the zone and think you can stand around and pass the ball around the perimeter, either. That is a recipe for
defeat.”

As IU seeks to eclipse its postseason success of last season and reach the Elite Eight for the first time since the 2002 NCAA finals run, the Hoosiers are in Washington, rather than the closer location of Indianapolis that was expected for much of the season.

Zeller said he is not worried, though, and for players such as Oladipo and junior guard Maurice Creek, Washington is actually closer to home.

“My family has been fortunate to come out and watch me play, because they live so close,” Oladipo said. “I’m looking forward to playing with my teammates and coming out and playing Indiana basketball at a high level.”

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