Hillsman plans to play Fondren, Coffey together in 2-guard set

first_img Published on February 13, 2014 at 2:54 am Contact Josh: jmhyber@syr.edu What Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman called the biggest win in program history may never have happened if not for a lineup adjustment five minutes into the game.Tied 11-11 at the 15:03 mark of the first half against No. 6 North Carolina on Jan. 30, Hillsman replaced point guard Alexis Peterson and shooting guard Brittney Sykes with two point guards — senior Rachel Coffey and sophomore Cornelia Fondren.It’s a combination that the Orange has used in practice, and sporadically throughout the season, but never for extended minutes during games. But in Chapel Hill, N.C., against the Tar Heels, Hillsman stuck with it, and the two-point guard lineup was a major reason for SU’s upset of the nation’s sixth-best team. “It just happened,” Coffey said. “It just clicked together and went well.”On Thursday, Syracuse (17-7, 6-5 Atlantic Coast) will take on Florida State (16-7, 4-6) at 7 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. Most likely, Hillsman will start the same backcourt he has all season — Coffey and sophomore Sykes. But there’s no question the two-point guard lineup of Coffey and Fondren will be featured at times.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHillsman said the lineup tinkering was just about trying something new. He needed a quicker lineup to defend Tar Heels guards Allisha Gray and Diamond DeShields. He also needed to rest Sykes, who averages just fewer than 32 minutes a game. With Coffey and Fondren on the floor together, the Orange can utilize two of the team’s best assets — Coffey’s ability to control tempo and distribute, along with Fondren’s defensive tenacity, rebounding and ability to get to the basket. Both Coffey and Fondren point to one play that makes the lineup work. When Coffey brings the ball up, Syracuse can run a 1-3-1 offense, allowing the 5-foot-11 Fondren to back down smaller defenders in the high post. Fondren let out a big smile when asked about the play, and said she really enjoys the new facet of her game. “If she plays the two, she’s going to get on the wing or get in the high post and drive,” Coffey said. “She’s defensive-minded, but she also can score when she gets the ball inside.”Coffey, a starter in all the Orange’s games this season who averages almost 22 minutes per game, said her main focus is being aware of who’s on the floor. Even with Fondren, Coffey is the primary ball handler. Like any point guard, her primary focus is to put the players around her in places where they can excel. But when the defense is sleeping, she can attack. Against Virginia on Jan. 26, Coffey scored 17 points and led SU to an 84-75 win.Fondren, who started 31-of-32 games last year as a freshman, averages 12 minutes. Against the Tar Heels, she played a season-high 19 minutes. Against Virginia Tech last Thursday she tied a career-high with nine points. And even though the only time Fondren has played off the ball was during stints in high school, she relishes the new role. Fondren said even when she and Coffey play together, Hillsman sometimes tells her to bring the ball up the floor. The lineup also uses the team’s depth at point guard to its advantage. The Coffey-Fondren combination enables Hillsman to strategically use Peterson. In the 23 games she’s played so far this season, the freshman has played more than 15 minutes 10 times. Nine of those have come in the last nine games. Against Georgia Tech, it was Peterson’s second-half effort that led the Orange to a 76-70 win. But other than Sykes, the veteran point guards Coffey and Fondren average the most time of any of the team’s guards. Said Fondren: “We complement each other. When she’s in the game, she can handle the ball and I can play defense.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Opponent preview: What to know about No. 8 Florida State

first_imgSyracuse, who has just two home games the rest of the season, will play Florida State Saturday at noon. The Seminoles (20-4, 10-3) haven’t lost at home this season and have won 12 of their last 14 games. Most recently, FSU lost by five points at Duke on Monday. Syracuse (14-10, 7-6 Atlantic Coast) also enters the game coming off a five-point loss, its to North Carolina State on Tuesday — a game that redshirt junior Elijah Hughes only played 2:33 of after suffering a groin injury in warmups. His status for Saturday’s game is still unknown. Here’s what to know about FSU ahead of its game against Syracuse.All-time series: Syracuse leads, 7-4Last time they played: Syracuse lost 80-62 in the Carrier Dome against Florida State on Feb. 5, 2019. After the Orange climbed back from a 22-point deficit and came within a point of the Seminoles, the game blew open once more. Tyus Battle led Syracuse with 23 points while Terance Mann led FSU with 22 points. The FSU report: At an average of 79 inches per player, the Seminoles are the tallest team in the nation. Unsurprisingly, they block more shots than anyone else in the country. FSU also ranks in the top 10 in steals and plays a pressure-heavy style of defense. Marek Dolezaj noted after Syracuse’s loss on Tuesday that FSU would pressure more than NC State had. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Seminoles scoring is spread out amongst their players, with three players averaging more than 10 points per game — Devin Vassell’s 13.4 points per game leading the way. The 6-foot-7  guard also leads FSU in rebounds per game with 5.3. How Syracuse beats the Seminoles: It’s hard to see what Syracuse requires without knowing if its best player will be on the court. The Orange will need to utilize defensive pressure in a similar way that they did against NC State. So Joe Girard III will have to play well following his career-high 30 points on Tuesday. If Hughes plays, then Syracuse can likely try to outrun the Seminoles pressure and turn it into transition scoring opportunities. Stat to know: 24.9% — Florida State forces a turnover nearly one out of every four defensive possessions. That rate ranks seventh nationally. KenPom odds: The Orange have a 21% chance of winning the game with a final score of 77-68, per KenPom.Player to watch: Guard, No. 24 Devin VassellVassell has shot nearly 50% from the field this year and leads the Seminoles in scoring. The sophomore shoots 42% from beyond the arc and could light up Syracuse with open shot opportunities in the zone. Comments Published on February 14, 2020 at 2:46 pm Contact Josh: jlschafe@syr.edu | @Schafer_44 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more