Syracuse basketball is known for having a small rotation. In the Jim Boeheim era, the Orange usually went two or three guys deep on the bench. That hasn’t been the case this year though, and the 83-63 win over Oregon proved how valuable depth can be for SU.
Every single member of Syracuse’s bench played well. The Orange’s second unit put up a total of 44 after all. However, the star of the show was Quadir Copeland. The sophomore tallied 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. And of course, Copeland rarely goes a game without making a showing on defense, where he added a steal and a block. Despite all those impressive numbers, the most important one might be 32. That’s how many minutes Copeland played against the Ducks, and it was the second highest total on the team. The wing is earning the trust of Autry, his teammates, and Syracuse basketball fans with his high-level play as of late. It wouldn’t be too surprising if Copeland continued to see lots of playing time as the season progresses.
Maliq Brown wasn’t far behind Copeland in terms of production. He tacked on 13 points of his own, including plenty of dunks. While only 2 rebounds isn’t impressive, there weren’t many blown box outs to point to. Sometimes, the balls just bounce a certain way, and SU still won the rebounding battle handily. The best part of Brown’s game was on defense. The forward finished with 4 steals, and it felt like a lot more. He disrupts passing lanes, pokes balls loose, and fights for loose balls. Brown was a key piece against Oregon.
A player very few expected to play a big role today was Kyle Cuffe. He plays about 10 minutes per game, and is pretty buried on the bench. However, Cuffe was the spark plug for the Orange. He scored 8 points in the first half, which led all scorers at the time. The guard’s three-point shooting was clutch and gave SU life on offense. Cuffe won’t lead the way every game, but his ability to score in a hurry is important for Syracuse.
The Benny Williams saga continues. After not playing at all against Cornell two weeks ago and not doing much in the Georgetown game, Williams was a real contributor today. He played 18 minutes and scored 8 points. The forward’s defense was solid as well, showing some real effort. This is a step in the right direction for Williams and Syracuse basketball.