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This season’s non-conference schedule was more competitive than in year’s past.
Now those easier games are over and the tough stuff is here.
Syracuse opens ACC play against Miami on Saturday and there’s a lot to look forward to. There were a lot of unknowns heading into the season. How reliable would Trevor Cooney be? Could Tyler Ennis look like an experienced collegiate player instead of a freshman? What about Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman?
All of those questions have been answered.
Trevor Cooney has been great. Tyler Ennis has yet to have a “bad” game. He could be the key to going deep into the NCAA tournament. Christmas and Coleman have performed as expected. After an impressive come-from-behind win over Villanova, this team has proven that its no. 2 ranking isn’t fake and that it can be successful in ACC play.
Here are five things Syracuse needs to do, or continue to do, to dominate ACC play.
Trevor Cooney has to stay hot. He’s shooting 50 percent from three and has been nothing but essential to Syracuse’s success thus far. Cooney’s the man for the catch and shoot. It usually comes from Tyler Ennis and those two have been nothing but a dynamic duo. If Cooney cools down too much, it’ll be a very long rest of the season and possibly an early exit in not only the ACC tournament, but the big dance too.
Tyler Ennis needs to keep playing like an upperclassman. He has shown no signs of playing like a freshman. This kid knows exactly what he’s doing on the floor. It is evident that he has worked with his teammates during practice to make sure everyone understands the other player’s style. Ennis knows where each of his teammates likes the ball and he knows to look for Cooney on the wing or Fair mid-range.
Get the bigs going. It’s difficult to expect big offensive production from Baye Keita. He comes in for relief, but he needs to find a way to help the team more when Christmas and Coleman can’t find ways to get things going.
Be willing to play with the starting lineup. The combo of Christmas and Coleman isn’t great. Neither are performing up to expectations, despite Christmas’ 15 points against Eastern Michigan. Perhaps find a way to get Jerami Grant into the lineup, who takes advantage of his playing time—he leads the team in rebounding. Right now, the team is 13-0, so no changes need to be made, yet. If a collapse occurs, maybe make a switch and start Grant, like Boeheim did when he started James Southerland last year.
Look for Michael Gbinije to do something. It’s understandable that this is his first year back, but more needs to be done. Syracuse cannot rely on Ennis to keep up with his 32 minutes per game. Gbinije has done little, and he needs to get more involved and be a more productive scorer.
Posted by: Austin Pollack