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Syracuse vs. Fordham - Season Opener Impressions

Hey, we played a good game this weekend you guys.  

Syracuse basketball is back, and with it comes all of the 20 and 30 point shellackings of random also-run teams from around New York state that we all enjoy.  

Oh wait, I forgot to do a write-up for St. Rose!  Okay here we go:

We played an exhibition against the College of St. Rose.  Fab looked good again.  MCW looked good.  We won by a lot. It was an exhibition.

Alright now that we're all caught up, let's get to this Fordham game.

First off, how about that student section?  I know being the first game, and being at 4 pm on a Saturday, and having a bunch of recent alumni sneak in helped the numbers, but we had about as many kids as we do for decent Big East match-ups.  Last year saw the biggest student section in terms of season tickets sold in SU history.  I'll be interested to see if that trend continues this season.

The actual game was about what you'd expect from an early season contest against an overmatched team.  We played pretty sloppily, and went and won the game with our superior talent, and flexed our 2-3 Zone muscle against a team who doesn't know how to attack it.

I didn't love how Scoop played.  He seemed to be rushing some shots and forcing the issue a bit more than necessary, especially against a team like Fordham.  Granted, he didn't play all that much (18 minutes), so it is hard to judge him too harshly.  I'm not worried about Scoop.  

Worrying about Brandon Triche might be a bit more warranted.  Triche was only 3-10 from the floor, and struggled a bit with the ball, with four turnovers to only three assists.  I still like that Triche is being aggressive, and he isn't really taking any bad shots, they're just not falling for him.  I think they will, maybe even tonight.  We know Triche can score, he's done it in the past, and we need him to get it going.  I think he will.  Thankfully, Dion Waiters was pretty tremendous on Saturday, while Triche struggled.

The "Triche vs. Waiters" debate is bubbling up once again, but I definitely think there is an argument to be had now.  Dion played a great game on Saturday.  He didn't force many bad shots, he moved the ball, he wasn't a malcontent, and most importantly, he scored.  His jumper is still ugly, and he's not a finished product, but the kid is playing well. I wouldn't strip the job away from Triche, and I don't think Boeheim will.  Ultimately, it may not really matter who "starts".  The guy who is playing the best is going to get most of the minutes.  However, if it is clear that Waiters is playing better ball after a good chunk of the season, maybe Jim should make the switch.  I think Triche will be find, so this could end up being a good problem to have.

Michael-Carter Williams had a rough first game, but I like that Boeheim gave him so many minutes.  MCW could have more upside than any other guard on this team, and if we can get him to a place where he can be a contributor for us in Big East play, that could make us very hard to beat.  He's going to get a lot of time in the out of conference schedule, and it should be good for him.  I'm excited to see how he develops.

Kris Joseph may end up being a lot like Wes Johnson was a few years ago- at the end of the game it seems like Kris didn't do much, but then you look at the box score and he had almost 20 points.  Kris looked like his knee was holding up much better than he did in the exhibitions, and his jumper seems even better this season.  

You have to love the way CJ Fair plays.  He still has one of the highest basketball IQs on the team, he attacks the glass, and he makes smart plays and takes high percentage shots.  His three-point stroke looks really good...if that continues to develop, the sky is the limit for CJ.  

I was very happy with what we got from Christmas.  He's not going to score very much, although he may do some damage in transition, but he did show some decent moves around the basket.  He rebounded fairly well (six in 20 minutes), and he can change some shots.  Christmas isn't going to be Jared Sullinger as a freshman, but I don't think he's going to have Fab's freshman year either.

I was pleasantly surprised by James Southerland's game as well.  He wasn't good in the exhibitions at all, but he did some nice things against Fordham.  He shot the ball well from the floor (3-5), and fought for rebounds better than we've seen in the past.  He's still not a good rebounder, but he's getting better.  He's also very good at interrupting the passing lanes with his long arms, and had two steals.

Fab Melo didn't stuff the stat sheet as well as he did in the exhibitions, but he played another very good game. He spent most of his time on offense setting screens so he didn't do much in the way of scoring, and it prevented him from crashing the offensive glass, but he looks good on the pick-and-roll.  Four blocked shots in 19 minutes is very impressive.  I really want to see our guards get Fab more involved in the offense.  He's going to be a match-up problem for any team we play if we can get him going.

Baye didn't play very much, but I always like what we get out of Baye.  He's always high energy.

Two games in two days should be a nice test for this team.  It's still too early to get a good grip on what we have this year, but I like what I've seen.