|Brian had this view from a few rows behind the team bench for Boeheim's 903rd win!|
Last Wednesday, Syracuse opened its final season of Big East play against Rutgers in the Carrier Dome. Scarlet Knights head coach Mike Rice was just returning from a three-game suspension, while Orange head coach Jim Boeheim was vying for career win 903 and sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list at the D-1 Men's level. After its now-trademark slow start, Syracuse went full speed ahead and pulled away to a commanding 39-20 halftime lead. Though Rutgers showed a stronger offensive effort in the second half, it was too little, too late for the Scarlet Knights against a Syracuse squad that didn't let up. Syracuse wins the game 78-53 and secures #903 for Jim Boeheim.
- The Brandon Triche we remember is the Brandon Triche who showed up to play Rutgers. 25 points on 8-11 shooting, including 5-7 from three and a perfect 4-4 at the line. Arguably Triche's best effort of the season.
- You're certainly not going to see numbers that good from Triche every game (but if he wants to prove me wrong, PLEASE DO!) but it was very encouraging for him to have a game like this. Should provide a huge confidence boost, for him to know he can hit shots and be effective at the line. He also had six assists and four steals, so it wasn't all going to the basket for Brandon either.
- CJ Fair also had a solid game with 15 points on 4-11 shooting (not great, I know), but another clutch performance at the line at 7-8.
- The only other double digit scorer for the Orange was Michael Carter-Williams. His 12 points and 10 assists give him yet another double-double.
- Another game where DaJuan Coleman was virtually absent: nine minutes on the floor for three points and three rebounds. Definitely a work in progress, but the talent is there. It just has to find its place in the college game.
- Lots of bench minutes in this one: 25 for James Southerland, 14 for Jerami Grant, 13 for Baye Moussa Keita, and 10 for Trevor Cooney. We also saw the line change at the end for the walk-ons.
- Eli Carter on Rutgers can shoot. He had a good game, but much of the rest of the Scarlet Knights roster didn't quite have it going on.
- Syracuse was out-rebounded 38-34, but luckily it didn't matter.
Then on Sunday, Syracuse faced its first Big East road game of the season, travelling to Tampa to take on the South Florida Bulls. To be fair, it was a sell-out and many of the fans in attendance were Orange fans, so, let the "not a true road game" comments fly. At any rate, this wasn't exactly a superb performance by Syracuse. Offense was at a premium here, though not to the extent we saw against Alcorn State. A second half run gave Syracuse a comfortable-enough lead to go on to win 55-44.
- Brandon Triche was again the pace setter for the Orange, with 20 points on 8-13 shooting and another 4-4 performance from the line. Very similar numbers to the Rutgers game, except his three-point shot wasn't falling in Tampa.
- Triche also played all 40 minutes of this game, likely because the rest of the team just wasn't bringing much to the game and Boeheim needed to stick with the hot hand.
- The always steady and solid CJ Fair had another one of his steady and solid games. The Orange's only double-double belonged to CJ, with ten points and ten rebounds. It was one of those games where he had to fight for every point and every board he got, so these are stats well earned.
- DaJuan Coleman was more of a ghost on Sunday than he was last Wednesday: in five minutes of play, no points or any other stats on one missed shot.
- While Syracuse navigates the relatively easier portion of its Big East schedule, if Coleman isn't getting mentionable minutes, one would assume things don't bode well for him once the Cincinnatis, Louisvilles, and Georgetowns come around.
- James Southerland found his shot again, scoring 17 points on 7-15. He was 3-9 from three, and while some of his shots seemed rushed or weren't good looks, others were good looks.
- Syracuse attempted 17 threes in this game, making only four of them; I don't mind the hot hand shooting, or a player taking a wide open three, but it seemed like the team was relying too heavily on shooting a three without setting up a play or settling on a poor look just to try to gain some momentum.
- Syracuse did well on the boards, out-rebounding South Florida 43-26. That certainly helped Syracuse maintain its lead and limit Bulls second chance points to only four in the game, none in the second half. Syracuse, meanwhile, had 18 such points.
Brandon Triche's solid performances in both games earned him Big East Player of the Week honors. If there's a time you want your star guard and team leader to step up his game, Big East play is it. It's been great to watch Triche this past week, and I hope this boosts his confidence to get the job done game in and game out. This week Syracuse takes a final trip to the Big East home office to play Providence on Wednesday, and then returns to the Dome for a Saturday match-up against Villanova in a game that won't draw 34,616 like it used to. Brian will be attending the Providence game while I'll be at the Villanova game, so keep it here and on twitter for our crazy commentaries.