Here’s what we’ve learned from SU’s hot start.
What does Syracuse’s win over Indiana on Tuesday night tell us? The Orange has plenty of ways it can beat you, and a team that is gelling earlier than we expected. SU is now 7-0 and ranked 4th in the AP, 5th in the USA Today Coach’s Poll. The Orange is now lumped in a group of some of the best teams in the nation, including Michigan State, Kentucky, Ohio State, Arizona and Kansas.
So far, the signature win was over #18 Baylor in Maui. The Orange not only beat a good squad, but was victorious pretty handily 74-67, and at one point had a 14-point lead with just 5:00 to play. In that game C.J. Fair, who has become the go-to scorer for the Orange, had an impressive 24 points. Every SU team that has danced deep into March has had a focal point on offense. It looks like Fair, who had developed polish this season on his offensive game, will be that guy.
The outside shooting of Trevor Cooney has also become an enormous key to spacing the floor for SU. It has opened up the interior for Syracuse’s bigs, and made the Orange dangerous from beyond the three-point line. Dajuan Coleman and Rakeem Christmas have frustrated SU fans because of their lack of aggressiveness down low last season. Because of Cooney, there’s far more space and less traffic under the basket leading to some easy buckets for the bigs.
Tyler Ennis’ maturation has also been quicker than expected. During the exhibition season and the first few games it looked as though Jim Boeheim was disappointed with how slowly Ennis was adjusting to new new surroundings. But the freshman has suddenly looked completely at ease running the offense, distributing the ball, and finding creases in the lane to finish in.
It’s still only December, but the betting odds are pretty good right now that SU will make a run deep into March. The early returns are very good on this year’s Orange.