Fourth-ranked Syracuse got off to a slow start, but pulled away from Canisius, 85-61, in the second half. Here’s the knee-jerk reaction from press row at the Dome after the win:
The Orange came out flat due on finals week. It was a long, grueling week for every student on campus, including the players. They had to balance exams with practice time. The Orange lacked energy out of the gate but picked up the pace in second half to win comfortably.
Rakeem Christmas started hot, but disappeared. This looked to be Rak’s breakout performance we’ve been waiting for. His lefty and righty hook lay-ups looked smooth to begin, he had six early point, and was one of the only starters to show energy. But once again, the sophomore PF went missing after that. Jim Boeheim said Rak is showing major improvement and poise, but it still needs to translate into game action. He did finish with three blocks.
Just four minutes for Trevor Cooney, but not reason to panic. It was interesting Cooney so few minutes, MCW and Triche stepped up their game in the second, so the sharpshooter had to take a backseat. Boeheim said after the game we may have to expect some ebb and flow to Cooney’s season. But everyone’s excited to see more from him after his break out game against Monmouth.
The Orange free-throw shooting has been horrific. It’s becoming a concern, because the charity stripe has haunted this program for a long time. SU shot just 50% from the line, and actually was more effective from beyond the arc (57% on 8 of 14). Syracuse has to fix this by the time Big East play rolls around and every made/missed basket becomes even more important.
MCW with double digit assists once again. 13 assists for the surging sophomore guard. He had just one at the break, but got the ball moving around in the second half. Despite the Carousel Mall story, MCW continues to be one of the best playmakers in the nation. He finished strong, and Jay Bilas recently named him the country’s best floor general.
Is James Southerland the closer? The sixth-man put on a show late, showing just how dominant he can be inside and outside. Southerland finished with 21 to lead all scorers and put the Golden Griffins away. He worked inside as well. He was 9 of 14 from the field and finished with dunks and alley-oops. Triche continues to be Syracuse’s steady scorer with 15 a game, but Big Game James is starting to be the most explosive scorer. When you need a big bucket or momentum changing play Southerland seems to be the man.
With #1 Indiana falling to Butler, will SU rise to #3? A thrilling finish in overtime between the top ranked Hoosiers and unranked Butler, with the Bulldogs pulling off the upset. Now Syracuse could move up a spot in the rankings, but still behind Duke and Michigan. This is a wake-up call for all top teams: nothing is a given in college basketball.
Boeheim said the MCW incident is over. Boeheim was enjoying in the post-game press conference making it clear the mall incident is done with. The point guard says he was fine with how it played out, and so were the police. So The Per’fesser is not going to allow it to drag on.
Boeheim on the eve of 900: “So what?” Classic Boeheim moment, saying he has no focus on 900 wins and just worried about Detroit on Monday. We shall see on Monday how much emotion he shows if the Orange get him the milestone victory.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen