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Matchup Nightmare: How Syracuse Will Use 6’8″ James Southerland at Guard

Here’s a scary post-Halloween thought for the rest of the Big East: James Southerland could see time in the backcourt this season for #9 Syracuse. The 6’8″ forward was bright-eyed and cheerful in the locker room following SU’s 99-63 preseason drubbing of Divsion-II Pace at the Carrier Dome last night. While it was only an exhibition, we got a glimpse of just how much depth the Orange has and what may be a solution with a limited number of guards.

He finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds after shooting 7-of-8 from the field, including a trio of three-pointers. Southerland told The Fizz following the game he could see himself being used as a guard at times.

“Definitely. Especially helping Mike and Brandon on the press and during some plays.”

Asked if the senior may see some minutes in the back court, Jim Boeheim said, “Well we only have three guards so we need more than two. So you need another guard sometimes. So he’ll play some there.”

That’s a ridiculously tough matchup for any team, trying to get a hand in the face of a 6’8″ player on the wing. Regardless of what position he gets labeled as, Southerland told The Fizz he has two primary objectives.

“I felt like what I did well tonight was use my leadership skills to make sure everyone felt in sync. My role is to be a leader and to also be an impact player.”

With only two main ball handlers, and three guards in total with shooting guard Trevor Cooney’s debut, Boeheim has to find solutions after Scoop Jardine graduated and Dion Waiters left for the NBA. Thursday night provided Boeheim and staff with an opportunity to watch one current forward show off his craft in a marksman role.

Southerland came off the bench, demonstrated his ability to play defense in the post, scored on the wing and handling the rock like a guard. He has the length of a forward, but the agility and athleticism of a guard. Senior point guard Brandon Triche will be the primary ball handler, and sophomore combo guard Michael Carter-Williams will help. But the Syracuse coaching staff found a lot of positive parts to Southerland’s performance.

As for Cooney – who did not play in the exhibition due to a tonsillectomy two weeks ago – Boeheim told reporters he will resume practicing on Friday and is scheduled to play in the exhibition against Bloomsburg on Sunday afternoon at the Dome.

Watch out Big East. You now have another matchup nightmare in the SU lineup.

Posted: Alex Kline

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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