Men's Basketball

Boeheim not worried about Syracuse’s scattered schedule

Jim Boeheim quickly shrugged off the notion. Syracuse hadn’t played since Sunday, but the head coach said his team’s sluggishness on the defensive end during the first half against High Point on Friday wasn’t a product of the layoff.

“We just didn’t play defense,” Boeheim said. “I don’t have to figure out what the reason is, it’s just we didn’t play defense aggressively.”

The No. 2 Orange picked things up in the second half and eventually cruised to a 75-54 win against the Panthers. But SU (11-0) will once again be tested with a long layoff before it returns to the Carrier Dome to face No. 8 Villanova on Saturday — eight days after the win over HPU (3-7).

Of course, Boeheim batted away any concern that another layoff could yield a similar slow start.

“It was tonight,” he said. “That won’t have anything to do with Villanova.”

Syracuse has played just three games since Dec. 7 and will have played just four games during a 21-day stretch once it finishes up against the Wildcats. The Orange had five days off before facing High Point. It had eight days of rest between games against Binghamton and St. John’s, the same amount of time it has to prepare for VU.

Potentially exacerbating the concern is the opportunity for SU players to return home for Christmas. Players have a handful of days off and away from the watchful eye of the coaching staff.

Tyler Ennis will spend time at home with his family — his brother, Dylan, is a guard for Villanova. Trevor Cooney said he’d go back to his old high-school gym to get some shots up. Jerami Grant will take some time off to let his ankle fully heal.

“Being a ballplayer you’ve got to make sure you’re on top of your game,” Syracuse forward C.J. Fair said. “Even if it is a few days off, you’ve got to make sure you’re ready to come back, practice and get ready for our next opponent, which is going to be our toughest opponent so far.”

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