The Syracuse Orange play the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets tonight in the season's final game at the Carrier Dome. Now, this isn't usually a pre-game feature, but By The Numbers thought a little tribute to this year's scholarship seniors would go a long way to putting a smile back on everyone's faces after the last couple weeks. It's the final home game for C.J. Fair and Baye Keita, so let's give them some love.
Fair: 6.4 PPG/3.8 RPG; 18.6 mins
Keita: 2.2 PPG/3.7 RPG; 14.6 mins
This was the "Unfinished Business" year. Remember that? Gone were Andy, AO, and Wes, so it was up to Scoop, KrisJo, and Jackson to redeem this team from what many thought was a season that ended too soon. Just to give you some perspective, the other freshmen this year were Dion Waiters and Fab Melo. Let that sink in for a second.
Fair and Keita both came off the bench -- C.J. at small forward behind Kris Joseph, and Baye at center behind Fab Melo. There wasn't much on Keita, but this is how we were introduced to C.J. Fair. To maintain the "numbers" theme we've got going on, we're going to call this "CCCC JJJJJ FAAAAAIIIRRR #1." Just go with it...
Fair: 8.5 PPG/5.4 RPG; 26.4 mins
Keita: 2.3 PPG/2.5 RPG; 12.3 mins
Sophomore year for our heroes was...dicey. Not for them, mind you, but you know what I'm referring to. It could be called "The Year of Dion" as much as it could be called "The Year of Fab." As we know, this was the last year at Syracuse for both of them, which cut that 2010 freshman class from four to two.
C.J. Fair became a starter at the power forward spot, while Baye played behind a much-improved Fab Melo. When Melo was out for the NCAA Tournament, Keita did what he could to step up. This included snagging 10 rebounds and 4 blocks, a team-high for both categories, in Syracuse's loss to Ohio State. Though not against OSU, I was able to find a Keita block from
earlier in the season his freshman year, which is still delightful enough for me to keep in here, even if it's not technically from the 2011-12 season. For something that actually is from Keita's sophomore year, feel free to check out this lovely meet-and-greet video from the preseason.
Fair: 14.5 PPG/7.0 RPG; 34.9 mins
Keita: 3.7 PPG/3.7 RPG; 16.8 mins
As Juniors, the guys really started to shine. C.J. became integral to this team, and Baye became The Matrix. With star teammates Brandon Triche, Michael Carter-Williams, and James Southerland, the team really clicked and made it to the Final Four.
Of course, the season wasn't all rainbows and butterflies. Stop me if you've heard this before: there was that wretched stretch in February where Syracuse lost three out of four games and the world seemed like it was crumbling. Then, Fair decided that enough was enough, and gave us one of the best numbers of the season: 1. This was the number of dunks it took to prove, once and for all, that our Otto is better than anyone else's.
Fair: 16.3 PPG/6.1 RPG; 37.7 mins
Keita: 2.0 PPG/3.8 RPG; 15.8 mins
The last hurrah for our senior leaders started with a bang. They helped their team become the Maui Invitational Champions. C.J. Fair racked up some nice numbers on his way to being named MVP of that tournament; not the least of all was 11, which represents the number of stitches he left with.
Fair was also named Preseason ACC Player of the Year. While that's pretty fantastic, I think the conference needs to add a new award: Most Awesome Media Day Attendee Ever. It's not numbers-related at all, unless you want to rank it the #1 Baye Keita video of all time. Yes, I'm throwing numbers out the window to give Keita this award, and here's why:
There are so many more numbers we could talk about, but I'll just leave you with these: Syracuse's #5 and #12 helped get this team to the best start in Syracuse basketball history -- 25-0. Regardless of how it ends, those are numbers they'll always get to have.