CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 20: James Southerland #43 of the Syracuse Orange drives to the basket against Joseph Fulce #21 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the third of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 20, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician is putting a bow on the 2011-12 Syracuse Orange basketball season by recapping how each scholarship player performed and looking forward to what lies ahead in 2012-13. In honor of their status as student-athletes (insert Fab Melo joke here) we will score each player’s performance on an A-F scale, and offer some suggestions on what they can work on in the offseason (a.k.a. "summer school").
For the first time in his career, James was solidly part of the rotation by the end of this season. When most people think of Southerland, it is for his shooting ability, but it is the rest of James' game that kept him on the court. He can light it up from deep, although he tends to be streaky, but he's no longer a liability when his shot isn't falling. James has become a very solid defender, a deceptively good shotblocker (hi Andre Drummond!) and a passable rebounder. He can also score around the basket in the half court now, which is great. He still needs to work on all of the above, but he's miles ahead of where he was last year, when Boeheim notably compared him to a corpse when it came to crashing the boards.
Perhaps the biggest development this year was that James, who previously had a reputation for feasting on scrub teams, turned into "Big Game James" and made some absolutely huge plays down the stretch this season.
Ballin' is a Habit James Southerland block (via BIAHRoadTrip)
Consistency is still the biggest thing that James needs to establish, especially because without Kris Joseph on the team next year, he's going to be looking at 20-25 minutes per game. Syracuse can't afford for Southerland to disappear at times. If he can shoot at a 35-40% clip from three, commit himself to crashing the boards, play good defense and score a bit on the inside night in and night out, he's a nice weapon to have. No player on this team is quite like James.
It seems like we haven't had a forward with a legitimate handle in about five years. I would love to see James improve his dribbling so he could potentially put the ball on the floor, as well as make him a bigger threat from outside with more fakes.
Final Grade: B