It’s still early in the college basketball season and the opponent wasn’t that good, but Syracuse flashed the brilliance that comes with winning championships in March. Here’s what we pulled out of another Orange win.
1) Michael Carter-Williams is the real deal. The kid is grasping the point guard position and is able to mix his offense in with a good passing ability. The guard had four turnovers and shot only 5 of 16, but he posted another double-double in the win. He also is so good at the top of the zone with his length and quickness getting in the passing lanes. The key to Jim Boeheim’s zone has always been length at the top because so few teams spend time on their zone offense.
2) CJ Fair is like a swiss army knife on the court. The lefty had 16 points and 13 rebounds with six of them coming on the offensive end. Fair’s jump shot is getting better meaning players can’t just play the drive when he’s out there. Rebounding had been a problem with this team, but not tonight with a margin of 50-34.
3) Trevor Cooney is shooting better. Four buckets on nine shots isn’t usually a good percentage, but this is a kid who was desperately looking for momentum. You can see he has a great stroke and is a streaky shooter. Cooney’s issue will come on the defensive end where he hasn’t completely played that well in the zone.
4) Jerami Grant is going to be a real weapon for this team. His athleticism is going to be tough to handle especially in the press which Syracuse excels in. The Orange had a bit of a lull around the ten minute mark in the first half which they snapped out of when they turned to the full court defense. Grant’s minutes are increasing because he is showing more on the court.
5) DaJuan Coleman has a lot of potential. He just hasn’t put it together yet. Coleman’s post moves are few, but he hustles and his free-throw shooting is a positive especially in late game situations when they’ll need his rebounding. A concern is the lack of offense from the center position. Rakeem Christmas did have 11 points, but this team just doesn’t feed the post enough.
Verdict: All in all, this is a great win for the Orange. It won’t show up nationally because Long Beach State isn’t much to talk about, but Syracuse showed speed, skill and depth in this win. Barring injuries, a Final Four isn’t out of the question.