Alan Griffin isn‚Äôt Elijah Hughes. We learned that in game one. While they play the same position, their styles are different. However, Griffin‚Äôs production is just as valuable.
Griffin is an above-average athlete. Everyone saw that last Saturday.
But Griffin‚Äôs most important contribution to SU‚Äôs 85-84 win came in the form of his 12 rebounds, nine of which came on the defensive end. In the past two years, the Orange have really struggled to rebound the ball, and now that Bourama Sidibe is out for at least a month, cleaning the class won‚Äôt get any easier. The fact that Griffin understands the importance of crashing the boards when playing on the wing of the 2-3 is a huge positive. Can he rebound effectively against a team with real size? The jury‚Äôs still out on that one.
Here‚Äôs another great stat. Griffin played 38 minutes last Saturday, and didn‚Äôt record a single foul!
When was the last time Sidibe, Marek Dolezaj, or Quincy Guerrier did that? Griffin was able to operate in all areas of the court without hacking a Bryant player, going over the back for a board, or committing a dumb infraction at the Bulldogs‚Äô free throw line (a Dolezaj favorite). That‚Äôs the consistency Syracuse needs as Jim Boeheim begins to shorten his rotation.
Don‚Äôt worry about Griffin‚Äôs 3-9 mark from behind the arc. Keep in mind, it was his first game in the Carrier Dome. He‚Äôs a streaky shooter, just like Joe Girard and Buddy Boeheim. While those three all had relatively cold performances from behind the arc in SU‚Äôs first win, that won‚Äôt be a trend going forward. All three players found their rhythm late in the game, knocking down extremely timely shots.
All that being said, Alan Griffin deserves to start tomorrow night against Niagara. Boeheim has already confirmed that Dolezaj is the starter in the middle going forward, and there is no reason for anyone else to fill in the Slovakian‚Äôs empty wing spot. Even when Sidibe returns, Griffin should still be starting. He‚Äôs much more offensively versatile than Guerrier, and spacing is key for Orange scoring this year. His defensive rebounding acumen is also just as good. Syracuse better not have a problem with its next two opponents, and hopefully Griffin has a breakout performance.