The Syracuse Orange men's basketball team returns from a brief week-long break Saturday and hosts the Canisius Golden Griffins in a non-conference contest at the Carrier Dome. The game is the opener of the Gotham Classic, a round-robin event also featuring the Temple Owls, Detroit Titans and Alcorn St. Braves.
The Orange (8-0), ranked No. 4 in the nation, are looking to earn their 29th straight home win and help head coach Jim Boeheim move within a victory of the historic 900-win mark.
Only two other coaches in history - Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski - have reached the feat in men's Division I history.
Syracuse is coming off an impressive 108-56 victory over the Monmouth Hawks last Saturday. The Orange had the week off due to final exams.
Canisius (6-1), led by first-year head coach Jim Baron, is off to the program's best start since 1973-74, when the team also opened the year with a 6-1 record. The Griffins have already surpassed last season's overall win total of five.
The impressive quick start can be credited to Canisius' 3-point shooting. The Griffins made a school-record 17 3-pointers in its win over Marist (Dec. 9) and is currently ranked first in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 3-point field goals made per game (8.3).
Senior forward Harold Washington paces the Griffins in scoring with 18.7 point per game, while junior guard Billy Baron is the only other Canisius player averaging in double figures (17.7).
One of the biggest story lines entering the contest will be the playing status of Syracuse sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams, the nation's leader in assists per game (10.4), who earlier in the week was caught shop lifting from a local Lord & Taylor's, a report from Syracuse.com revealed Friday.
Boeheim was made aware of Carter-Williams' incident, which did not involve the police and was called a "misunderstanding" by the guard earlier in the week, and hinted the Naismith Award Watch List nominee would not miss any games.
Syracuse projected staring lineup:
- Michael Carter-Williams (6-foot-6, 185 pounds): coming off a 16 assist performance against Monmouth.
- Brandon Triche (6-4, 205): the only Orange player to score in double figures in every game this season.
- C.J. Fair (6-8, 215): averaging 15.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in the last two games.
- Rakeem Christmas (6-9, 242): leading the Orange with 2.6 block per game.
- DaJuan Coleman (6-9, 288): averaging 7.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Bench - Trevor Cooney (6-4, 195): is 10-for-22 (45-percent) from behind the 3-point line; Jerami Grant (6-8, 203): averaging 8.7 points in the last three games; Baye Moussa Keita (6-10, 215): backup center that is averaging 5.0 points and 5.5 rebounds a game; James Southerland (6-8, 215): first man off the bench, averaging the second-high post average on the team (14.5) and is shooting 41-percent from behind the 3-point line.
Canisius' projected starting lineup:
- Billy Baron (6-2, 195): was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 17.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists last week in two games.
- Harold Washington (6-1, 175): averaging a team-high 18.6 points per game.
- Isaac Sosa (6-3, 180): has started in all seven of Canisius' games. Averaging 7.3 points a game.
- Chris Manhertz (6-6, 235): In the Griffins last three games, he's averaging 13.6 rebounds per game.
- Jordan Heath (6-10, 240): averaging 9.9 points and 1.9 blocks per game. Older brother of Josiah Heath.
Bench - Freddy Asprilla (6-10, 280): backup center, transfer from Kansas State also played at Florida International; Josiah Heath (6-9, 230): with he is brother, Jordan, is one of seven set of brother at the Division I level; Reggie Groves (6-2, 195): has played over 20 minutes in three games; Alshwan Hymes (6-2, 203): a graduate of Syracuse's Jamesville-DeWitt High School and former teammate of Syracuse's Triche.