Syracuse opens home slate with Candlewood Suites Invitational

first_img Published on September 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm Contact Ryan: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ After a rough opening weekend against last year’s Big East champion, the current No. 1 team in the country and even a scrimmage against a professional Polish team, Syracuse opens at home this weekend against four unranked teams.For a youthful Syracuse team — there are just two seniors on the roster — the Candlewood Suites Invitational will provide a more accurate benchmark.“It will be much easier than playing in Penn State,” middle blocker Monika Salkute said. “All the fans are at your (side).”SU will open the weekend at 2:30 p.m. on Friday in the Women’s Building against Stony Brook (2-1) with a 7:30 nightcap against Rutgers (2-1). Syracuse (0-2) will round out the weekend with an 11 a.m. start on Saturday against Oakland (1-2) before closing out the invitational against Colorado (1-1) at 7:30 p.m.But while Syracuse will be back at home, the Women’s Building isn’t necessarily a familiar venue.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textUnlike most teams who practice where they will play, the Orange has only played for part of one practice in their home arena. Head coach Leonid Yelin said they tried one day of practice in there, but the heat made the floor too slippery and SU moved back to the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.The unfamiliarity will inevitably cause problems, Salkute said, even though she played there last year.“A little bit,” Salkute said. “Because the area is different (than the Melo Center), that’s why.”Yelin doesn’t believe that the lack of practice in the Women’s Building is the only thing that takes away from his team’s home-court advantage. He was disappointed with the sparse attendance at games last season.Yelin coached at Louisville for 15 seasons before arriving at Syracuse. He said the Cardinal fans were much more supportive of their athletic teams, and strong turnouts at his team’s home games were common.With that uncertainty, the inexperience and the youth of the roster, Yelin has no idea what to expect from his team this weekend and this season.“It’s a very young team. I think we have young talented kids,” Yelin said. “That’s what we have to find out, where we are, what we have to do. The goal is as the season will progress, getting better. Keep them believing what were doing is going to pay off.”Yelin said he liked the way his team fought against No. 1 Penn State, but that the Nittany Lions were just too strong. In their season opener, however, Yelin believes his team came out with too many nerves, and his players agree with that assessment.“Our first game we didn’t play at all like we were supposed to,” outside hitter Gosia Wlaszczuk said. “It was just in our heads and I think maybe it was some kind of pressure of the first game. Everything was bad and it wasn’t us at all.”The youth of the team set it back this past weekend, as the players and Yelin all agree they came out too nervous for their opener against then-No. 19 Louisville.Salkute, though, believes that returning to Syracuse and the experience it picked over the weekend will lessen the team’s nerves when SU starts its home slate on Friday.“I think it will be easier because we’re playing home,” Salkute said. “As more games we play, the better we will be.” Commentslast_img

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