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Sycamores 2011

March 14, 2011

ISU shooters think their 3s can answer Syracuse's zone


For years, Syracuse and Jim Boeheim have been known for a 2-3 matchup zone defense that can create havoc for opposing perimeter players.

Indiana State players are looking at the bright side of Friday’s matchup in the NCAA Tournament. The opportunity to shoot 3-pointers should be plentiful for ISU’s long-range shooters.

According to NCAA statistics, only six teams in the NCAA have allowed more 3-point attempts than the Orange opponents’ total of 726 — or 22 per game.

Well aware of Syracuse’s style of defense, ISU point guard Jake Odum voiced his pleasure to senior Aaron Carter, a 34.8 percent 3-point shooter this season, referring to Carter as a “zone buster.”

“You always see them play, they’re on TV a lot,” Odum said of the Orange. “They’re very long, very athletic. It’s going to be a tough one to pull it off.”

While Syracuse allows many attempts from the 3, Boeheim’s squad ranks 31st in the NCAA in 3-point percentage defense, holding opponents to 31.4 percent.

ISU topped the Missouri Valley Conference in 3-pointers made during league play, knocking down 7.6 per game. That long-range shooting was a significant step up from ISU’s average of 6.1 per game during non-conference action.

Carter is one of many Sycamores who can get hot from beyond the 3-point arc. Jordan Printy leads the team in accuracy at a 50.4-percent clip and in total makes with 50 3-pointers in just 17.8 minutes per game.

“It definitely can be [a good matchup]. I think we can play their zone tough, and they’re a great team coming from a good conference,” Printy said. “Their zone is pretty unique, they have a lot of good athletes, great team, it’ll be fun.”

Carter looks forward to the challenge ahead.

“They’re big and athletic, they’re a good team. They do do play a zone for like 40 minutes so we’ve got to work on our zone offense, figure out how to attack it and get it into the weaknesses. I think we’ll be ready,” Carter said.

Redshirt freshman R.J. Mahurin is another one of ISU’s nine players that shoot above 30 percent from the 3-point line. That list includes freshman guard Steve McWhorter (16 for 39), forward Carl Richard (27 for 76),

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us,” Mahurin said. “I hadn’t seen it, but coach said they’ve been playing zone all year, and we’ve got some good outside shooting with JP, AC … me sometimes. It’s just a great opportunity. I’m just happy to be here.”

Odum surmised Sunday that ISU will have to do much more than just shoot well from the outside.

“… They extend the zone so we got to penetrate well against it,” Odum said. “We can get in there and kick out and look for our shooters in the corners or dump downs down to Myles.”

The 6-foot-8 Walker could also play an important role against Syracuse in the paint.

“I think the role that coach [Greg] Lansing, coach Lou [Gudino] and the whole coaching staff are going to give me is to take out the middle man, keep pressure on him, keep a body on him, post him up every single time down the court and occupy that person,” Walker said.

Walker’s thoughts Sunday were also with his mother Veronica Johnson back in Houston. The Sycamore big man hopes she can watch him play on national television.

“She’s not doing well right now. She has pancreatic cancer, and she’ll be getting surgery pretty soon so hopefully that goes really well,” Walker said. “All I’m doing right now is playing for my team, God and playing for my mom most importantly. She’ll be able to watch me play if she doesn’t have work. My mom works really really hard. She’s my everything.”

Walker, one of several Sycamores playing their first season of Division I basketball, has been a force so far in the postseason.

Carter and Kelly, two of the three seniors on the squad, are optimistic the Sycamores will be ready.

“The coaches are going to break down the film of them and tell us what we need to do,” Carter said. “I have confidence they’re going to have a good gameplan. We just have to execute it.”

Kelly, who has fought through injuries and illness to contribute off the bench, is ready for at least one more game.

“I think teams that tried zoning against us have really struggled,” Kelly said. “I don’t think they could do it against the shooters we have across the board and deep on to our bench. AC [Aaron Carter], JP [Jordan Printy] and myself? We can stretch the zone out and that will really be key for us.”

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