Here is my report card from the Orange’s 81-46 victory.
Head of the Class
C.J. Fair: C.J. was the proverbial man amongst hosers Tuesday night, single-handedly outscoring Ryerson at several points in the first half. No one on the Rams could match his combination of size, quickness and skill, and he was able to get just about whatever shot he wanted. It was legitimately a surprise when he missed. Fair dropped off a bit in the second half, finishing with 18 points and 6 rebounds in only 25 minutes, and I’ll attribute his 7-17 shooting more to boredom then to anything Ryerson was doing to bother him.
DaJuan Coleman: In a reversal of the Holy Family game, Coleman came to play Tuesday and pitched in one of his better efforts in recent memory. After a slow start, Coleman came on strong in the second half and finished with an 11 point, 10 rebound double-double. He was active in the paint, calling for the ball and attacking the glass when he got it. He also made good at the free throw line, shooting 7-10 after a subpar 1-5 last Friday. After the game, Jim Boeheim credited Coleman’s improved play to a greater willingness to go get the ball, and it paid off with more touches and good looks around the rim.
Rakeem Christmas: Coleman’s paint partner also had a good showing, improving on his uninspired output from last week. He shot 5-6 from the floor for 10 points, and added 8 rebounds to Coleman’s 10. He was also more active on defense, blocking two shots and notching a steal in 20 minutes of play. If Christmas and Coleman can come even close to contributing this much each night, the Orange will be really tough to stop.
Stay After School
SU’s Press Defense: The Orange broke out their press defense midway through the first half, and the results were up and down. For every steal or deflection they managed, they would allow the Rams to somehow slip through for a two-on-one advantage. The Orange’s superior size and quickness allowed them to recover and erase many of those mistakes, but they won’t have that sort of advantage when they face more skilled and athletic opposition in the ACC.
SU’s Offense: Syracuse hasn’t set the world on fire in either of its exhibition wins, and they were especially lackluster versus Ryerson. SU shot a head-scratching 43% from the floor, a painful 60.6% from the free throw line, and a bricktastic 22.7% from three. Boeheim attributed it to a lack of cohesion, saying it is “Hard to get into a good offensive rhythm” when he’s playing 11 guys. I’ll buy that for now, and we all know that when the conference schedule starts he’ll have trimmed that rotation down to 7 or 8. It will be interesting to see whose playing time falls off when games start to matter. You know Fair, Grant, Ennis, and Keita are guaranteed their minutes. Cooney, Gbinije, Coleman and Christmas will get time too – if they continue to play well. That leaves Roberson, Johnson and Patterson to prove they can contribute, or be ready if a guy in front of them goes down a la Southerland and Coleman last year.
Final Grade: B-
The Holy Family win had some rough patches, and this one wasn’t any prettier. But these exhibition games are almost intended to be ugly, with Boeheim and the coaches playing unfamiliar lineups in order to get a thorough look at each player in a variety of situations.
The real games start on Friday when the Big Red come to the Dome. That’s when we’ll begin to see what sort of shape this team will take.
For a more detailed recap of the game and Boeheim’s post-game news conference, check out my Twitter timeline.