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Naturally, with James Southerland's suspension less than a year after Fab found himself at Chuck's watching games, the two are going to be compared. I figured most people have already started but let's put a pretty little bow on it, shall we?
Fab Melo and James Southerland are now linked forever in lore as the two both found their way to the ineligible list thanks to
academic issues that can not be disclosed at this time. However, unlike last year, the Orange are not at the point where they are definitively at a disadvantage without Southerland. Granted, what Southerland has provided this season is something that cannot be replaced (see Arkansas) but it's not VITAL to Syracuse's success... yet.
Just like when Fab went down, the immediate burden fell onto a freshman and veteran combo: last year it was Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita. This year, Jerami Grant and C.J Fair immediately stepped up to fill the scoring void that Southland left.
Already, you see that what Fab and Southerland bring to the floor are different. Fab brought defense and rebounds against other big men, something that separates elite programs from good ones. Southerland brings points and an offensive sparkplug, something that's not easy to replicate but far more players can provide.
Without Fab, the Orange had to turn to Keita, not as dominant or polished as Fab and Rak, a very raw and inexperienced player. Without Southerland, the recipe for success has many more options, thus a higher likelihood of success.
Michael Carter-Williams can always return to previous form and start touching triple double land every game if he starts making and taking better shots. Brandon Triche can start playing far more consistently and move from 14 a game to let's say 16-17, entirely plausible. We've seen that C.J. can step up and play while Jerami Grant has more than enough potential in extended minutes to use his length on defense to make up for occasional offensive mistakes.
In short, Jim Boeheim faces the Moneyball problem unlike last year when he legitimately faced a personel problem. He's not losing Southerland, he's losing 13.6 points a game he has to make up in the aggregate. That is a very manageable problem to have and one I see Boeheim solving sooner rather than later.