WBB : Seal the deal: With win over bottom-feeder Seton Hall, SU could ensure NCAA Tournament berth

first_img Comments Ten days of waiting.That’s what the Syracuse women’s basketball team would be saddled with if it loses to Seton Hall on Friday. Ten days full of anxiety, question marks and overall powerlessness as the days inch closer to Selection Monday and the Orange’s NCAA tournament fate.But Kayla Alexander said she won’t let that idea cross her mind.‘Devastating,’ she said of that potential waiting period. ‘That’d be the worst feeling ever. I’m not even going to think about that.’SU (21-8, 9-7 Big East) will hope to avoid that outcome Friday at 2 p.m. when it takes on the 16th-seeded Pirates (8-21, 1-15) in the first round of the Big East tournament in Hartford, Conn. It represents a crucial game for the No. 9-seeded Orange, as a bad defeat could ultimately relegate Syracuse to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament for the third straight season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textA win gives SU a chance to knock off eighth-seeded Georgetown (21-9, 9-7) on Saturday at noon and potentially set up a rematch with top-seeded Connecticut at 2 p.m. Sunday.Much of SU’s success this weekend falls heavily on the sophomore Alexander’s shoulders. On Thursday, she was named to the All-Big East first team. And since a home loss to DePaul on Feb. 8, in which the center scored just four points, head coach Quentin Hillsman has made post play the focal point of the Orange offense. And Hillsman said Alexander and junior forward Iasia Hemingway will continue to carry Syracuse in the conference tournament.‘Absolutely it’s going to be the same thing straight through this thing,’ Hillsman said. ‘They’re our two highest percentage shooting starters, so we’re going to continue to put the ball in their hands and let them make plays.’Alexander had a streaky regular season, dominating opponents one game and becoming a forgotten factor in the next. She leads Syracuse in scoring with 14.4 points per contest but failed to hit a field goal in just nine minutes of action when the Orange beat Seton Hall 75-50 on Jan. 8.But in SU’s recent five-game winning streak, which ended Monday in a loss to UConn, Alexander and her frontcourt partner Hemingway powered the team’s offense. Alexander tallied 19.2 points per game in that pivotal stretch, while the junior forward Hemingway averaged 12.2 points.‘They’re rolling,’ senior guard Erica Morrow said. ‘They’re carrying the team. They’re opening up a lot of things for us on the perimeter. … Definitely we’re emphasizing getting the ball in the paint and just letting Kayla just go to work and do the things she needs to do to score the basketball.’The duo started rolling when SU desperately needed wins to improve its NCAA tournament resume. After the loss to DePaul, the Orange had just 16 wins and was 4-6 in the Big East.But Syracuse turned to its frontcourt for wins over conference bottom-feeders Villanova, Providence and Cincinnati and added back-to-back wins over Louisville and St. John’s, now the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds this weekend, respectively.The strategy for the Orange has been relatively simple. Hemingway gets the ball near the free-throw line, where she has the option to drive, kick the ball back out to a guard or dump it down to Alexander in the post. If she chooses the latter, Alexander has one job: get the ball up to the rim.The sophomore center has just one assist through 29 games this year, so she has adhered to her coach’s instructions. Hillsman said it would be a big concern for an opposing coach knowing Alexander will shoot every time she gets the ball inside.‘If I’m coaching against a post player,’ he said, ‘and she’s a 6-foot-4 kid, she shoots in the high 50 percents, you know she’s going to shoot it every time and then you know the team’s going to go rebound it, I think it’s a scary thing. We tell her to get it up on the rim because we feel good about it.’Syracuse is 4-5 when Alexander fails to reach double-digit points. The sophomore still feels her team has something to prove in the Big East tournament. A loss to Seton Hall would be devastating. But a win or two could seal SU’s berth in the field of 64.‘We’ve just got to go out there, play hard, prove that we believe we’re good enough and strong enough to play in the NCAA tournament,’ Alexander said. ‘And to go out there and get some wins and prove to ourselves that we’re able to play at the next level.’zjbrown@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on March 3, 2011 at 12:00 pmlast_img read more

Liverpool target is quality but focus should be on other attackers

first_img Liverpool transfer target Ezequiel Lavezzi 1 Ezequiel Lavezzi is being linked with a move to Liverpool, so WhoScored.com explain to us whether or not buying the tattooed trickster is a good move. Check out WhoScored.com for tons more Liverpool stats…Despite the acquisitions of Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic, Divock Origi and Rickie Lambert, reports indicate Brendan Rodgers is prepared to further strengthen up front. The £75m sale of WhoScored.com’s highest rated player last season, Luis Suarez (8.43), to Barcelona significantly weakened their frontline and one understands the need to spend the funds received to fund a new look attack.Many feel the Reds should bolster their defence, though the signing of Dejan Lovren and supposed moves for Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo suggest Rodgers is looking to do just that. Liverpool, however, continue to be linked with a number of attack-minded players after a move for Loic Remy fell through.Marco Reus is the marquee signing fans crave, while the Merseysiders are believed to have shown an interest in Wilfried Bony, Jose Callejon and, most recently, Lavezzi. The Argentine has failed to replicate his Napoli form at PSG following his move to France in 2012, but that is not to say he has performed poorly.The 29-year-old winger scored nine league goals in PSG’s title-winning campaign, a figure bettered only by Suarez (31), Daniel Sturridge (21) and Steven Gerrard (13) of all Liverpool players in the Premier League last term. Granted, Lavezzi’s return did not come close to matching Suarez’s, but in an attack featuring Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani, that is not necessarily a poor haul.What weighs in Liverpool’s favour is that PSG need to sell players in order to accommodate new arrivals. The £40m spent to sign David Luiz from Chelsea had a significant impact given FIFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, meaning they have had to loan Serge Aurier from Toulouse for the season with an option to buy next summer and are expected to do the same with Angel Di Maria, who is set to sign from Real Madrid.Di Maria’s arrival would limit Lavezzi’s first team action, especially with manager Laurent Blanc also able to call on Javier Pastore and Lucas Moura in his favoured 4-3-3 formation. Rodgers, though, could use a player of Lavezzi’s quality in his squad.As WhoScored.com highlight on the player’s page, his style of play sees him dribble and cut inside from wide positions. The PSG ace has a similar attacking style to Suarez and would help ease the pain of the Uruguayan’s departure.However, the main concern is whether Rodgers could convince Lavezzi to swap Paris for Liverpool without the guarantee of regular first team action. The winger is expected to see his playing time restricted in the upcoming campaign under Blanc, but with a number of options available in attack at Anfield, it’s up for debate whether he would force his way into Rodgers’ starting XI on a regular basis.If PSG are willing to sanction his sale, and Lavezzi was prepared to drop his high wage demands, Liverpool could use a player of his quality in the squad. His inclination to cut onto his right foot from the left flank would appeal to the club as they look to snare a like-for-like replacement for Suarez. Meanwhile, strength in depth is essential, but if younger targets are available, then they should turn their reported interest away from Lavezzi and focus elsewhere.For more stats on Liverpool target Ezequiel Lavezzi, click here to view his WhoScored.com player page.last_img read more