A Closer Look At Syracuse's March Potential

By Matt Josephs
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse has just one regular season game left before they embark on the Big East Tournament, then the Field of 68. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for Orange fans, who have had the high of winning at Louisville mix with the lows of a three-game losing streak and some hideous performances. That said, it’s time to take a look at this roster and put it in the proper perspective.

It’s ironic to see Michael Carter-Williams get all of the Wooden Award love when he’s the second best player on this team behind CJ Fair. The southpaw has hit double digits in 20 straight games and even went through a stretch of five games where he did not take a seat. The streak ended when he sat one minute against St. John’s. Fair is averaging almost 15 points per game and around seven rebounds. He often bails the team out in late shot clock situations and is someone who can get his own shot when he wants to.

Brandon Triche is number two on this team in terms of importance. He is the leader and his struggles from the field and with the turnovers have coincided with the team’s struggles. Before Wednesday’s win over DePaul, the senior missed 30 of his last 45 shots from the field. He had 16 assists and 16 turnovers in that span as well. When Triche is going well, so are the Orange. He’s scored more than 20 points six times this season with Syracuse winning five of them.

I think one of the problems for the Orange is the reduced playing time for Jerami Grant. The future is bright for this freshman and he had made some good contributions to the team earlier in the year, but has now seen his time gone away. James Southerland is an important piece to this year’s team, but Grant is the future. With the lack of production out of the center position, I’d like to see the Cuse use Grant at the center position. If you put a lineup out with MCW, Triche, Fair, Southerland and Grant, you will overwhelm teams with your athleticism. Sure, they’d need to commit to rebounding, but this will produce more offense.

Why don’t I have Carter-Williams yet? I just don’t know what to make of the point guard. He makes some good offensive moves, but seems to settle for the three too often. He’s great at getting teammates involved, but also makes some horrible questionable decisions. I’d love to see the MCW we saw in the first few mins of the DePaul game where he asserted himself, but consistency is an issue.

The bottom line is this: the talent is there for a March run. There are a lot of teams who’d love to have Syracuse’s starting five. There’s just something about them that is preventing them from making a long run.

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