By Brendan Krisel
After rumors of cancellation and being postponed it’s time to tip off for the Syracuse Orange. The scene is set for the “Battle on the Midway,” where the Orange will take on the San Diego State Aztecs in a 4 p.m EST showdown in San Diego, Calif.
The “Battle on the Midway,” will be the first time the Orange have opened out of the Carrier Dome since the 2002-2003 season, according to Syracuse Athletics’ official website. The Orange have been very successful under head coach Jim Boeheim. Boeheim has led the Orange to a 32-4 record in season openers according to Syracuse Athletics.
The Orange enter the season ranked ninth according to both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll. Their opponent, San Diego State, is ranked 20th,according to both polls.
The Orange will miss key players from last year such as Dion Waiters, Fab Melo, Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine. Freshmen DaJuan Coleman and Jerami Grant will play in their regular season debuts. Coleman figures to see solid minutes this season as the Orange’s starting center.
The Aztecs of the Mountain West Conference can start the season with a big win. Four starters from last year’s team are returning and junior guard Jamaal Franklin has been named to the Wooden preseason top-50 list, and was named the preseason Mountain West Player of the Year, according to San Diego State’s official athletics website.
Prospective starters for the Orange will be Coleman, sophomore Michael Carter-Williams, senior Brandon Triche, junior C.J Fair and sophomore Rakeem Christmas. The Aztecs projected starting lineup will be Franklin, junior Xavier Thames, senior Chase Tapley, sophomore J.J O’Brien and senior DeShawn Stephens.
The Orange will need to do three things to secure a victory. First, they need to contain Franklin, who averaged 17.4 points and 7.9 rebounds last year, according to espn.com. Second, the Orange will need to utilize their size advantage. Whether it be using their length to intercept passes or to gain a rebounding advantage, the Orange need to play big against San Diego State. Coleman, who comes into the game at around 280 pounds, could take over the paint. Third, Carter-Williams has to break out and live up to the hype surrounding him in his first season opener as the Orange’s starting point guard. Carter-Williams averaged 15.5 points and 7.5 assists in preseason games this year according to Syracuse Athletics. If he can swish and dish as effectively against San Diego State, the Orange’s offense should flow very nicely.