Syracuse, N.Y. Syracuse has been flying under the radar while coach Jim Boeheim adapts to life without Donte Greene.
After three straight wins to open the season, the Orange are ready to move into the spotlight. And it’s coming Monday night when they play No. 18 Florida (3-0) in the CBE Classic at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
“We’re ready. We have to be ready,” said guard Eric Devendorf, who was recruited by Florida. “We have a big name, so do they. We have no choice but to be ready.”
Greene, the team’s leading scorer last year as a freshman, now plays for the Sacramento Kings. His loss has been barely felt because Devendorf and Andy Rautins have returned after recovering from knee injuries.
Devendorf is averaging 15 points, while Rautins is still struggling with his shot. He’s 6-for-24 overall and 4-for-20 on three-pointers, scoring only 20 points in three games. But he has contributed 14 assists with only five turnovers.
Syracuse is averaging 82.3 points after victories over Division II Le Moyne, Richmond and Oakland, Mich. The Orange beat the Golden Grizzlies, 86-66, Friday night with a dominating first half.
“You have to look out for every Top 25 team, but we’re used to the big leagues,” said sophomore point guard Jonny Flynn. “It will definitely be a high-energy game. It will be a great test for us.”
Syracuse shot 58.3 percent (14-for-24) and had 13 assists on its 14 baskets while building a 47-28 halftime lead against Oakland. The Orange also outrebounded the Golden Grizzlies 27-16 and held them to 27.5 percent shooting (11-for-40) before the break.
Instead of Boeheim’s trademark 2-3 zone, the Orange used an aggressive man-to-man defense to beat Richmond and the Golden Grizzlies. Oakland, which opens with nine straight road games and won in overtime at Oregon on Tuesday night, fell behind, 22-5, in the first seven minutes.
“The first half, I thought our defense was really good,” Boeheim said. “This team scored a lot of points the other night at Oregon. They have to be tired. We took control of the game. The second half, we kind of eased up. They scored, we scored.”
Flynn had 18 points to lead five Syracuse players in double figures. He’s averaging nearly 21 points.
“We’re coming off a good game,” said Flynn, who had 27 points in the 76-71 comeback victory over Richmond on Tuesday night. “We played great defense and executed on defense. With our man-to-man, we’re setting the tempo. We can pressure and create our offense. It energizes us.”
Arinze Onuaku had 14 points and three blocks, Paul Harris had 11 points, nine rebounds and three blocks and Devendorf finished with 10 points.
“Defense really generated our offense,” said freshman Kris Joseph, who had 13 points and six rebounds. “It got us moving and into our transition game.”
After Syracuse was eliminated in the NIT last spring, Boeheim promised to spread the work more this year. Unlike last season, when he often had only two subs to rotate in, the bench is full.
The 6-foot-7 Joseph played 19 minutes and went 6-for-6 from the floor, making the only three-pointer he attempted. He’s averaging close to 18 minutes as he adjusts to the college game.