NEW YORK—Some Syracuse basketball players have spent more time playing basketball than sleeping over the last day.
SU played for almost four hours Thursday night/Friday morning and more than two hours on Friday night, which means Paul Harris has spent more time on the court than in bed.
"I had the adrenaline running and didn't get to sleep until 7 AM," Harris said. With the wake up call well before noon the Syracuse junior couldn't have snoozed for more than a few hours Thursday night.
Harris should be fresher for Saturday's championship game after the Orange needed just one overtime to knock off the Mountaineers, 74-69. The game ended before midnight and coach Jim Boeheim didn't let reporters stick around long.
"All right, guys, let's wrap it up, it's after midnight," Boeheim bellowed, slumped against a wall at about 12:20. Boeheim needs to get his players out of Madison Square Garden and back to their hotel in order to get some much needed rest and relaxation, especially for star point guard Jonny Flynn.
The sophomore played 35 minutes on Wednesday, 67 on Thursday, and all 45 Friday night. That's 147 minutes in three games.
Flynn hasn't worn down yet, but the effects of fatigue should set in soon. Last season, Flynn played 313 consecutive minutes during Big East play, but his shooting percentages dropped dramatically as the season progressed.
Flynn doesn't buy that he'll tire out.
"If you tell your body that you're not tired, then your body will stop believing it's tired," Flynn said.
Despite the 'Cuse guard's poor shooting performance (4-for-13), Flynn still impressed West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, "He's the most talented point guard in the country. He's just...he's a great player."
Syracuse's championship game opponent, Louisville, even has praise for Flynn.
"I really had a great appreciation for Flynn," Cardinals' coach Rick Pitino said.
"It's not easy taking on those pick-and-rolls the whole game like that. That was an amazing, amazing thing to me."
Pitino was referring to Flynn's ability to fight through screens set by Connecticut's Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien, and Stanley Robinson Thursday night.
Flynn and the rest of the Orange guards will need the energy to fight through more screens against Louisville; however, they won't need to do much running around on the defensive end of the floor.
"They play the 2-3 zone so they're not chasing like when Rick [Pitino] is pressuring," Huggins said.
The zone defense allows a team to conserve energy by only defending players in his immediate area instead of running all over the court, following one player.
Syracuse has also stayed fresh because of its training staff. The last two nights, every player who has stepped up to the mic after the game thanked the training staff for all the work they've done to prepare the Orange.
Trainers even created makeshift ice tubes for several of the players to relax in to recuperate.
If the 'Cuse can muster enough energy to score one more win against Louisville's pressure defense, the team better go out and buy their trainer Brad Pike the nicest fruit basket that cash-strapped student athletes can buy.
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