A capsule summary of the Syracuse Orangemen, who will meet the Texas Longhorns in the NCAA Tournament semifinals Saturday.
Coach: Jim Boeheim
Record at Syracuse: 652-226
Career record: 652-226
Conference: Big East
2002-03 record: 28-5
Conference Record and Finish: 13-3, Tied-1st West
Seed, Region and Bid: 3, East, At-Large
Total NCAA Tournament Bids: 28
NCAA Tournament Record: 44-28 (.611)
Final Four Appearances: 4 (1975, 1987, 1996, 2003)
NCAA Tournament Championships: 0
Best NCAA Tournament Finish: Runner-up in 1987 and 1996
Record vs. teams in the field: 9-4
F -- Carmelo Anthony (6-8, 220, Fr -- 22.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg)
F -- Hakim Warrick (6-8, 185, So -- 15.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg)
C -- Craig Forth (7-0, 255, So -- 3.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
G -- Kueth Duany (6-6, 190, Sr -- 11.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
G -- Gerry McNamara (6-2, 172, Fr -- 13.0 ppg, 4.5 apg)
G -- Billy Edelin (6-4, 195, Fr -- 9.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
F -- Jeremy McNeil (6-8, 257, Jr -- 3.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.9 bpg)
F -- Josh Pace -- (6-6, 190, -- 3.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
Road to the Final Four
Defeated (14) Manhattan in first round, 76-65
Defeated (6) Oklahoma State in second round, 68-56
Defeated (10) Auburn in regional semifinals, 79-78
Defeated (1) Oklahoma in regional final, 63-47
Outlook: Carmelo Anthony has turned in one of the best freshmen seasons in the history of the NCAA and has led Syracuse to the brink of its first national title. The Orangemen looked inexperienced and rattled in parts of the first two rounds and were not outstanding in the second half against Auburn.
But they were clicking on all cylinders on defense against Oklahoma and Anthony put together two good offensive halves. Although Syracuse has advanced to the Final Four, it seems as if it has yet to play its best basketball. Gerry McNamara has been streaky and Kueth Duany has been up and down. So it may be a scary thought to think about how good Syracuse plays if it gets everybody going.
The Orangemen appear to be the most talented team left. In addition to Anthony, Hakim Warrick presents a major matchup problem and Billy Edelin comes off the bench and provides scoring and energy. Center Jeremy McNeil has been particularly inspired with his shot blocking.
The Orangemen's 2-3 zone is one of the most difficult defenses to prepare for and Texas is not the ideal team to attack it. Syracuse must get a decent outing of McNamara against the Longhorns' T.J. Ford, even though Edelin should get a chance to defend the lightning-quick Ford.
The Orangemen have been so deep of late that the effective Josh Pace hardly played at all against the Sooners. McNeil, a Texas native, will have plenty of incentive against the Longhorns. The Orangemen are 3-0 against Big 12 opponents this season, beating Missouri, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. If Syracuse advances, Marquette and its strong outside shooting may be a tougher assignment that Kansas in the championship. Either opponent would have just one day to prepare for the 2-3 zone and it might not be enough.