Yeah, yeah, yeah. I stink at headline writing. This is what happens when Sean disappears for a second: People give me responsibility and I promptly screw the pooch.
Do you enjoy murders? If so, last night was Murder-Christmas for you. Syracuse blew the doors off of Le Moyne 91-48 in front of, like, 11,000 blood thirsty blood lusters. As Mike Waters notes in his game story, it was a gruesome scene in the Carrier Dome:
Syracuse pummelled the Dolphins bad. There was blood everywhere. In fact, the Dolphin beating was so maniacal that during the post game press conference a P.E.T.A. representative questioned Boeheim as to whether he felt comfortable engaging in such animal cruelty.
Just kidding. Waters didn't write that, or at least I don't think he did. I didn't read the game story I linked to, so there's probably an even chance that those words did or did not appear in The Post-Standard. All I'm saying is: Reading is for suckers.
Now, let's get to the important part of this post: What I think about this iteration of Syracuse basketball. With two exhibitions under the Orange's belt, there's a bunch that we know and don't know about this team.
Bullet point ruminations follow, because they're easier to write than paragraphs of text that require lucid thinking:
- I watched the second half of the Le Moyne game live and caught up with the first half immediately after on the DVR machine. I don't recommend watching basketball like that as it'll make your head explode. I'm all for figuring out time travel and stuff, but basketball time travel will make your mind bleed.
- Your exhibition season walk-on of the year is Brandon Reese. Look at his stat line from last night: 1-2 from the stripe, 1 point, 1 steal, 2 minutes of sweaty action. Ballin'! Adorable!
- On Theodore Jones: I thought he played much, much better last night. The complaint I've had with Theodore is that the guy just refused to fit into a role of "Microwave Shooter." The guy has talent, but he'd just eat up possessions with silly shot selection. Last night he looked much more comfortable and canned more than half of his attempts. If he plays like he did against Le Moyne -- smart shots where he sets his feet with good looks at the basket -- he's going to be just fine. If he comes out and simply chucks the rock, he's in the doghouse until forever. All anyone wants this guy to be is a Rashard Anderson-like part; he doesn't need to put twenty in the tank in 15 minutes of play. As of now, me and Theodore are talking the same language.
- Defensively this team is going to be pretty good, I think. I even think that Boeheim may continue to roll out some man-to-man in the early non-conference schedule. Shocking! When push comes to shove, though, it's another zone team come conference play and I'm more than fine with that. Le Moyne drilled some ridiculously deep triples last night that kept the margin from approaching 60, but the fact of the matter is that Syracuse, again, held an opponent to a shooting percentage that mirrored my social success factor. So, no worries about that in totem, but I'd like to see just a shade more focus on transition defense. Nitpicking: I support it.
- Raise your hand if you are 100% certain on Syracuse's rotation this year? Did you raise your hand? If so, you're an imbecile. Here's what we know: Boeheim has 10 guys that look like they can play until the conference schedule starts. When these guys are coming off the pine is totally debatable and will likely be determined situationally. Of the five guys in reserve roles -- Keita, Southerland, Fair, Waiters, and Jones -- I am confident in three (Southerland, Jones, and Fair) as contributing for the entire season but their burn is going to be dictated according to when Boeheim needs their skills. Keita will also likely ball out of pure necessity. As for Waiters, see below.
- On C.J. Fair: The kid can play, bros. I see a lot of folks comparing him to Josh Pace. He isn't Josh Pace. Fair has a much higher basketball ceiling. Like Pace, Fair is a scrapper; he'll get you points and boards and plays with his head. The difference, though, is that Fair's jumper doesn't look like a guy trying to signal an airplane. That thing is pretty smooth. This chap has all the makings of a solid 10 minutes a night on the floor, if not a little more.
- On the three-point shooting: 69% for the game is stupid good, but let's see it night after night. I'm not ready to bury this potential flaw yet, but last night the Orange was hotter than a $2.00 pistol from beyond the arc. Theodore Jones and James Southerland, if they can continue to bomb atomically (which I think they can), can put this issue to rest. Also: Triche continues to quietly hit from distance and Jardine has improved remarkably. Kris Joseph? Oof. His second triple of the night looked like he drilled it on accident. The jury is still out on the Canuck's touch from outside.
- On Keita: This cat reminds me of Dante Cunningham at Villanova. Kind of lanky, has some touch, will go to the glass . . . nothing flashy, but effective. Here's the problem with the Cunningham comparison, though: It's going to take some time to develop into a Big East-caliber frontcourt player. Keita has the raw tools, but he desperately needs to put on some weight. He's going to get pushed around in the conference and I worry about what will happen to him if he gets punched in the mouth by a guy like Michigan State's Draymond Green. But, so far, so good. Bernie Fine certainly has a nice foundation to work with.
- On Waiters: Please, please, please, please see a shot doctor this summer. Teams are going to lag off of him all season daring him to shoot the ball rather than take it to the tin. Waiters is improving, but you can still see that he's having a tough time transitioning to college hoops. The cat is probably behind Theodore at this point in terms of contribution effectiveness at the guard spot, but the kid has toughness. He's not ready for Big East basketball yet, but I think the more floor time he sees, the better he'll be. Still, if you grade him out on the last two exhibitions, I have a hard time saying that he was anything more than "OK."
- BOLD STATEMENTS: Scoop Jardine is the best basketball player on this team. Rick Jackson is a close second (despite his game last night). I'm not sold on running the offense through Kris Joseph yet. Brandon Triche is the most important player on this team (control the turnovers, son). This team will have the highest free throw shooting percentage in Syracuse history. Fab Melo will foul out of six to 10 games this season. This team is going to block 240 shots this year.
That's it, I suppose. Agree? Disagree? Have other stuff you want to say? Leave it in the comments. For now, though, the season is here and Northern Iowa is coming east for a beating. As Jay-Z would say: