On a night where the only real story was one man’s path to excellence continuing, and possibly looking better than ever, there was an underlying theme.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim became the third coach in Division 1 college basketball history to win 900 games on Monday night, which is something you can only marvel at, and use to place perspective on how fantastic of a run it’s been for Boeheim and the Orange.
More impressively, in each of those 900 wins, there has been a different star. Be it Derrick Coleman, Carmelo Anthony, Gerry McNamara, or as of late Michael Carter-Williams, each one of Syracuse’s wins has been fueled by not just their coach, but their players, and on Monday night it was senior forward James Southerland leading the way.
The Bayside, Queens product poured in a game-high 22 points, which didn’t only elevate Boeheim to the ranks of Mike Krzyzewski and Bobby Knight, but elevated himself into the discussion of best big men in the Big East. On a team with so many talented, although very, very raw big men, Southerland has been the most productive scoring big on the team (and second overall at 15.2 points per game), as well as a mentor to freshmen DaJuan Coleman and Jerami Grant.
Syracuse has also gotten solid contributions from C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, and Baye Keita, but Southerland’s sweet stroke and his nose for the ball have led to him playing big minutes, and being one of Boeheim’s most important players for the number-four team in the nation.
It may have taken a while for Southerland to make a name for himself, but don’t expect him to be going anywhere but to the top this season.