The Syracuse University men's basketball program begins its 2011-12 season Saturday afternoon as it host Fordham University at the Carrier Dome. The Orange, currently ranked No. 5 in the AP and USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, will enter the season with high expectations as eight players, who saw meaningful playtime minutes last year, return to a squad that finished 27-8 overall.
(If you need more info on the Orange, check out SB Nation New York's season preview.)
For those that don't know a lot about the Rams, here's a brief pre-game report.
Second-year head coach Tom Pecora is considered to be one of the best coach New York City has to offer. Before coming to Fordam, Pecora was the head coach at Hofstra University for nine season where he compiled four 20-win seasons.
Fordham began the year pretty strong earning two non-conference victories over Manhattan University and St. John's University, a NCAA Tournament team. However, once the Rams began conference play it lost 15 straight before beating the University of Massachusetts. In the end, Fordham finished the season 7-21 overall and 1-15 in the A10. The lone conference victory over UMass snapped a school record 41-game league losing streak.
Player To Watch Out For
Look out for the Rams' best player, junior foward Chris Gatson (6-foot-7, 225-pounds). Last season, Gatson led the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game and ranked fourth in country in rebounding with 11.3 rebounds per game. Those stats were good enough to earn him a spot spot on the All-A10 Preseason Second Team.
This season, isn't suppose to be much better than last year as the Rams have been predicted to finish dead last in the 14-team A10. However, there is some hope that this season micks the previous one. Last year, the Fordham knocked off Manhattan University and St. John's University, which reached the NCAA Tournament, during it's non-conference schedule.
Reminder: SB Nation New York will be blogging live Saturday afternoon from press row at the Carrier Dome for the Syracuse vs. Fordham contest. Be sure to check back for more pre-game news, in-game updates and post-game reactions. Make sure to follow along on Twitter at SBNationNY and JaredSmithCNY.