The View From Courtside: Freshmen Lead Syracuse Past Eastern Michigan

Nate Shron

Coming off of their big road (yes, I said road) win over Arkansas last Friday, including James Southerland’s 35 points on a record nine 3-pointers, the Syracuse Orange returned home to defeat old friends Rob Murphy, DaShonte Riley and the Eastern Michigan Eagles 84-48.

Here’s my report card from Monday night’s game:

Head of the Class:

Jerami Grant: Grant had his first true breakout game of the season Monday night. In just 15 minutes he tallied a career-high 11 points on 4-4 shooting from the floor (2-5 from the line), and chipped in two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. His energy was evident from the moment he checked into the game, and his hustle and length was a key part of Syracuse’s success with the full court press. After the game he seemed happy about his performance, saying he hopes his success and aggressive play will give the coaches more confidence in him and allow him to be more comfortable on the court.

Passing Grades:

Michael Carter-Williams: MCW turned in a pedestrian (for him) effort, and it is only because his excellent play is starting to become routine that we can even call his output ‘pedestrian’ by comparison. He notched another double-double with 11 points and 11 assists, along with 7 rebounds and 3 steals. However, his decision-making could use some work, as his 6 turnovers and 0-4 shooting from 3-point range indicate.

DaJuan Coleman: If not for Grant’s fine work, Coleman may have taken the honors as the star of the show. He too achieved a career scoring high with 14 points on an extremely efficient 5-6 from the floor and 4-4 from the line. This came against a rather tall and athletic EMU frontcourt, including the aforementioned 7’0” SU transfer Riley and three other opponents 6’8” or taller. Coleman also grabbed 5 rebounds in 22 minutes, and said after the game that playing against someone of Riley’s stature really helped them get ready for the bigger players that they will face in the Big East. When I asked him about his high percentage shooting, he told me that his “Goal is to get the ball as close to the basket as possible,” which is pretty simple logic if you think about it.

Full-court press: Syracuse started out the game looking very lethargic on offense, and trailed 10-5 early in the first half. Then Boeheim released the hounds, and SU pressed their way to a 32-7 run to end the first. They had 17 steals for the game, and forced EMU into 23 turnovers. The lineup of Triche, Southerland, Carter-Williams, Fair, and Coleman was especially terrorizing, and didn’t lose much steam when Grant, Christmas, and Cooney checked in for relief. EMU shot a miserable 29% for the game, 21% from behind the arc.

Stay After Class:

Half-court offense: Like I mentioned above, the SU offense was stagnant and uninspired out of the gate. Even with the success of the press, SU only shot 5-22 from 3-point range, and committed 18 turnovers. Credit goes to Boeheim for recognizing the trend early and switching to the press before they got in too much of a hole.

James Southerland: It’s hard to fault a guy who had such a huge night in the previous game, but newly-minted Big East Player of the Week James Southerland kind of disappeared for most of the game on Monday. In 24 minutes he only managed 4 points on 2-9 shooting (0-5 from three), which is such a conspicuous dropoff that it at least bears mentioning.

Extra Credit:

Jim Boeheim’s rant: What can be said, other than it was a classic case of Boeheim being Boeheim? It seemed to me that he came into the press room after the game with a point to make, and it didn’t matter what the question was, he was going to make it. I assume his comments were pointed at his players, but he clearly thinks someone is a little too full of themselves and he wanted everyone within earshot to know that they haven’t yet earned their #4 ranking or the right to coast through the early portion of the season.

Final Grade: B

Game Notes:

- Syracuse moved up to #4 in both the AP and coaches polls Monday afternoon.

- The win was SU’s 47th in a row vs. non-conference opponents, and their 26th straight at home. Their last home loss was in February 2011 against (dun-dun-dunnnnnn) Georgetown.

- SU beat EMU by the same exact score last year, 84-48.

- Trevor Cooney showed some late signs of breaking out of his shooting slump, to the relief of the home fans. After struggling again for most of the game he came alive in the final minutes with two 3-pointers and a fast break dunk that rocked the Dome and put a capper on the evening. After the game Cooney reluctantly acknowledged his struggles, saying that his 3-3 shooting at the free throw line helped him get into a rhythm, and it was “good to know that they (the fans) hadn’t given up on” him during his slump.

Jeremy Ryan is a writer/editor for CNYcentral.com in Syracuse. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyRyan44.

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