Welcome back to the Syracuse basketball roundtable! The Orange are still unbeaten (knock on wood). So while that may not seem like a perfect place to start a healthy discourse about SU hoops, we try to do so just the same.
As is and will be the norm all season, we're chatting about Syracuse basketball, the ACC and anything else that might come up in the never-ending soap opera that is Jim Boeheim's Orange team. Join us below...
At what point in the BC game were you breathing normally again?
Chris Daughtrey: I can tell a game is going badly when my heart starts trying to beat out of my chest. I never once got that feeling watching the BC game. In fact, when the Orange pulled even with around eight minutes to go, I thought they could still end up winning by 20. Call me overconfident, but I was never really scared.
Lisa Nelson: When C.J. Fair made one of his trademark mid range floaters during their second half run. Syracuse was still down 4, but C.J. was having such an off night, when that shot finally fell for him, I knew we'd be alright.
Matt McClusky: The Eagles never gave me the impression they had enough - talent, grit, shot-makers - to win. I'll say this, though, that game was in the Danger Zone or Upset Zone for far too long for the liking of Orange fans. Still, for me, it seemed like, even when trailing, Syracuse was about to Mortal Kombat FINISH THEM for most of the game.
Jeremy Ryan: I'll admit I was having too much fun ragging on the announcers to get worked up about the score. SU has made a habit of starting out slow this year. We can point to a half dozen games where it took them a while to get it together. It just happened to take longer than most on Monday night. Did I think they were going to lose? Not for a second. They're too good to lose to BC, plain and simple.
Dan Lyons: I never got TOO nervous during the game, but I'd say once Syracuse took the lead back at 52-51, I never thought that we would surrender it.
Jared Smith: No bullshit, I really wasn't panicking. If there's one thing I've learned over the years of covering SU basketball it is the percentages usually play themselves out. I knew at halftime, BC was shooting lights out and out hustling the 'Cuse, meanwhile, C.J. Fair, Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant were all struggling. When that happens, no matter the opposing team, Syracuse is going to have a hard time. I had a good feeling that BC wasn't going continue shooting the way they were (they didn't) and, as expected, Ennis and Grant played much better in the second half. Look, Syracuse was down six with about 12 minutes remaining. If the score was that close with 8 minutes to go, I would have started sweating. But, by the 8-minute mark the Orange were up by two points and all was right in the world.
Sean Keeley: About the nine-minute mark of the second half. I've been down this road too many times to really freak out. Syracuse is more talented and Boston College was shooting at an ungodly pace for too long. Those two facts almost always eventually spell doom for the opponent. Despite the fact that so many guys were off, I just knew someone was going to turn on the boosters and Jerami Grant was basically that guy. And that stuff is contagious. Once he righted the ship, Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney followed. And C.J. Fair got it together eventually enough to seal the deal.
John Cassillo: We discussed this on the podcast, and I was easily the most on edge of everyone. The reason, as we found, for my extreme reaction there and in pretty much any game thread on this site, is when I came of age as a fan. This theory goes for everyone, but since my first two years at SU were the two NIT seasons, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop more than most. So it makes sense that I didn't start breathing normally again until the 2:30 mark in the second half.
Has Dajuan Coleman's absence been good or bad for this team?
CD: There hasn't really been a difference. He rarely played enough minutes to make an impact and, when he was effective, it was typically in garbage time. But I'll go with bad just because it's going to further slow his development. SU was counting on DC2 to be an impact player and it hasn't happened yet. A bunch of DNPs won't help.
LN: Both. It's good for Syracuse to learn to adapt, and it's good that Tyler Roberson has gotten some minutes out of it. But if Coleman isn't playing, he's not continuing to develop, and that's bad news bears.
MM: It's good in terms of getting Grant more run and giving the team some "adversity" to deal with. But ultimately I think Coleman's not playing is a bad thing for this season and for the future. The sophomore needs as much game experience as anyone -- plus his absence is five more fouls the Orange Bigs don't have.
JR: I don't think it's a good thing for Fair and Grant to have to play all of those minutes, especially when Christmas seems to be locked into alternating with Keita instead of playing alongside him. It has been nice to see Roberson get a little bit of run her and there, but Coleman provides additional depth and size that SU is lacking at the moment.
DL: I'm not sure. I'd lean towards bad if only because in a game like Monday where Christmas and Grant are in foul trouble, it would be nice to have Coleman's five fouls. I still have hope that Coleman can develop into a good player for SU, so I want to see him play.
JS: The one thing I do not like about Coleman's absence is the lack of options off the bench for Syracuse. Sure, Grant is basically a starter but this team just feels more complete when he is coming off the bench. Add that Grant gets more time to rest, as does the rest of the starting four players, and it is really nice to have that extra man. I just get the feeling that there will come a game when SU's core four (did I start a new thing?) is completely gassed and just doesn't have that extra umph to pullout a tight ball game. Grant and Keita are our motor guys that set the tone late in games and I'd like them fresh for a stretch run. With Coleman not being able to eat up the starting 4 minutes of each half it does have an impact.
SK: I'd say good because this team needs to be tested by situations like this. Injuries are part of the game and SU has been fairly lucky in recent years, so it's probably good if this means we get the big one out of the way early. The only problem is that I don't see Rakeem really stepping up like he needs to. I'm starting to get worried the ship is sailing on him.
JC: Yes, because I'd rather he was 100-percent healthy when he returns. It's also allowed Jerami Grant to go "beast mode" on our opponents at pretty much every turn (more on this below). I'd link to think both outcomes could come in handy come March.
Tyler Ennis looked like a freshman on Monday; is this cause for concern come the postseason?
CD: This was the first game I thought Ennis didn't play well overall. He started the game with a bad jumper and some sloppy plays. His numbers weren't bad (12 pts, 3 REB, 5 AST, 6 STL, 1 TO) but he just didn't seem himself. But unless this becomes a trend, I don't see any reason to be concerned. I'm sure he's hitting the freshman wall right about now. It was their second game in three days with a road trip in between. I think he'll be fine.
LN: No. He strikes me as the kind of player that won't make the same mistakes twice. Besides, I would have been more concerned if we got to the postseason and he hadn't had a rough game yet. Everyone has at least one, and I wouldn't have wanted his to come late in the season.
MM: Read this closely: In no way whatsoever should any Orange fan be concerned about Tyler Ennis. The silky-smooth point has shown brief signs of growing pains, but overall, Ennis is the real deal and a HUGE reason why SU is a heavy favorite -- I think of him as a more complete Lazarus Sims (senior year) 2.0. ACC play is tougher, but even with a couple of hiccups the last few games, Ennis has still shown his value and then some.
JR: No. N-O. No. No no no no no. Ennis has had like three 'bad' games all season. He's allowed to have a rough night now and then. He'll be fine.
DL: Meh... Ennis has been one of the best freshmen in the country, and often looks like an experienced veteran, but his age is going to show occasionally. I'm not worried about one off game (which still wasn't a bad game at all, he did score 12, dish out five assists and turned in six steals to only one turnover.)
JS: All guards are going to struggle when matched up against another solid point guard. I think BC's Lonnie Jackson and Olivier Hanlan are good players and did a fantastic job of frustrating Ennis into a few mistakes. With that said, Ennis' first half was terrible but his second half was nearly flawless. So, the freshmen seemed to have adjusted pretty well. Kudos to him for that.
SK: Nah. He's a freshman. He's allowed to look like a freshman every once in a while, especially in January. Remember, he's looked like a freshman in one game. He's looked like a senior in the other sixteen.
JC: When I wrote this question, I was of the opinion he had a less-than-great game. He did, but then you see the box score and realize just how high a standard we have for him (due to his outstanding performance through 17 games overall). Still scored 10 points. Still had six steals. Still had just one turnover. I'm walking away from this one...
Jerami Grant's going to the NBA, isn't he?
CD: Probably, but I don't see why this is news to everyone now. Everyone keeps referencing that put back dunk he had. Sure, it was a spectacular play, but it's going to take a lot more than that for him to make it in the League. The 15 foot jumpers he's been hitting over the last few games have more to do with his rising draft stock than any dunks he has.
LN: Ugh. Boo this. Not because losing Grant makes me worry about next year's team, necessarily. I just really like watching him play. And by "play," I mean "posterize every single team we go up against at least once per game."
MM: He gone.
JR: Maybe. He's ready athletically, but his skills need a lot of work. There isn't a chance in hell he consistently gets that mechanical jumper of his off against an NBA defender, let alone makes it. And if he can't shoot, defenses will lay off of him and make him drive, where he isn't really great at either, at least not yet. Plus, several guys in front of him on the draft boards are also forwards. He could leave now and make a nice living for a few years, before his lack of offensive polish and tweener size catch up to him. Or, he can get in the gym this summer, develop a perimeter game, and ensure himself a long and fruitful career. Which would you choose?
DL: I'd lean towards yes. He has to be only of the five best athletes in college basketball -- that's going to do him well in draft preparations. Enjoy him while you can, 'Cuse fans.
JS: Every time he nails a jumper just inside the 3-point line I think to myself, "Boy, he is making more and more of a case to leave SU after this season." Grant has all the tools of an NBAer (his freakin monster put-back slam that put the game away showed that) but to make it in the NBA he needs to be a better shooter, like Fair has become. My advice to him would be to return just so he can spend another offseason turning his jumper into a legit weapon. That's what Fair has done and it is paying off big time. With that said, I am not going to blame him if he decides to get paid for a living.
SK: These days, you always have to assume on the side of Yes. The goal isn't to play for Syracuse, the goal is to play in the NBA. And if the NBA tells you you're good enough to be drafted high, then you go. You can't even get mad about it anymore.
JC: As I mentioned in the response about Coleman, it's been awful nice letting Grant destroy opponents from buzzer to buzzer. But it's also clued just about everybody in one the secret that was Jerami Grant's freakish athleticism. Now that everyone knows, he's a lottery pick and will be leaving Syracuse after this season. I doubt there's much stopping him now.
Why has Dick Vitale been campaigning for a Boeheim statue for a week straight now?
CD: Because Dick Vitale is the Joe Paterno of college basketball commentating. He's old and senile, but he's such an institution in the sport that no one has the heart to force him to hang up the headset.
LN: Dude, I don't know, but I don't get it. Could just be because #pageviews.
MM: Vitale has become his own bully pulpit -- his calling games are more acceptance speech than color commentary. So even though Boeheim is a Hall of Fame coach with the court in which his team calls home named after him, Vitale has to rally the troops for some cause, any cause. I would bet Vitale had no real idea of what he was even championing when he first broached the subject, but all he cares about is having some talking point to fall back on. (Although, I do worry Daryl Gross mentioned something to Vitale off-the-cuff, too.)
JR: Because that's what he does. At this point in his career he's as much of a professional college basketball booster as he is an analyst. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm pretty much in the minority when I say that I love Vitale and I think he's great for the game. His enthusiasm is contagious, and he built a Hall of Fame career off of being an ambassador for the sport. So he occasionally goes off on tangents during games, like this Boeheim statue thing. That's fine. At least he can pronounce everyone's name correctly.
DL: I'm not sure. I'm all for heaping praise on Boeheim as much as possible, but after what happened at Penn State I'm really not for building monuments to people while they're still around. Especially with whatever unknowns still float out there with the Bernie Fine situation, let's keep the statues on the back burner for a while.
JS: Because Syracuse continues to win? I respect Dicky V, but you don't create a statue of living people. Sorry Dick, this isn't happening anytime soon.
SK: Because he's Dick Vitale and he spends most of his time talking about things other than basketball analysis.
JC: Since his long-time favorite teams, UNC and Duke, are not doing well, he needs another pet project. And since we're in the ACC, we now get to take up that mantle of nonsensical praise. Also, he probably feels bad after that little Hall of Fame incident a week ago, so now he's trying to make up for it.
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