Syracuse Orange Fans Await James Southerland Decision

By Matt Josephs
Kim Klement-USA Today Sports

Syracuse nation is waiting with baited breath as the appeals hearing for  heralded sixth man James Southerland is over. Now comes the hardest part as Orange fans teeter between Final Four dreams or a first round disaster.

Southerland poured in almost 14 points per contest while picking up 5.2 rebounds. Most importantly, he was the one player who stretched the defense as evidenced by the almost 2.5 three-point shots made per game.

In his absence positives and negatives have arisen for the Orange. Jerami Grant is getting tons of minutes. He is currently on a two game stretch without a rest and it’s paid off as he has scored 19 points adding 11 rebounds in the process. Grant’s athleticism has made the zone a lot better considering the amount of ground he can cover.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is freshman Trevor Cooney who was signed to be a sharp shooter and has fallen short. Cooney has made just seven threes in his last nine games overall getting shutout points-wise in four of those games. Ironically, Cooney’s minutes have decreased.

Luke Winn of pointed out that Michael Carter-Williams has particularly missed Southerland given that the most of his assists have gone to the sixth man.  In 16 games with him in the lineup, MCW had11.6 assists per game while that number fell to 6.5 in the contests without him. One could almost say that Carter-Williams is also shooting more and trying to get more involved in the offense because of this.

Next up is a home game with St. John’s before road trips to UConn and Seton Hall. Many of the experts are down on the Orange without Southerland. We’ll see how they handle this next stretch of games.

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