Any coach will insist there is no greater sin than looking past an opponent.
But even Syracuse's Jim Boeheim admist that he, as well as his talented team, can't help but consider tonight's 7 p.m. semifinal game against out classed Kent State (1-0) in the first annual Carrier Classic a tuneup for a long awaited match with nationally ranked Maryland in Saturday's final.
The terrapins (2-0) also have a breather tonight, meeting outmanned Wagner College (2-0) in the other semi-final at 7.
"It's difficult not to look ahead to Maryland," said Boeheim, who going into this season has the nation's best record (100-18) for Division I coaches with fewer than five years on the bench. "They are probably the No. 2 or 3 best team in the country. I hope nothing strange happens to prevent us from meeting."
The Orangemen will be hard-pressed to duplicate last year's 26-4 season in which they reached the NCAA East Region semifinals before losing to Iowa.
"We will miss our two big guns, Roosevelt Bouie (playing in Europe) and Louis Orr (Indiana Pacers), and right now we're not a good rebounding team, Boeheim said. "All five of the guys will have to do the work Bouie and Orr did for us the past few years."
One problem in the Orangemen shouldn't have is shooting. In returnees Erich Sandifer and Marty Headd, and Leo Rautins, a transfer from Wisconsin, Syracuse should be able to match baskets with most teams.
Add Dan Schayes' soft one-handers with Tony Bruin's power move to the basket and 18-footers from freshman Gene Waldron and Stan Kearns, and Boeheim might have enough offense to offset the lack of rebounding.