|Roberson showed up to play|
It's been a rough year so far for the Syracuse Orange. After a week off from games for finals, the team was back in action on Sunday against Louisiana Tech. A good shooting team from Conference USA who also plays a lot bigger than it is, this game would not be a walk in the park for the Orange. It took some tough play down the stretch to not allow LATech to take the lead, as well as an inbound pass to Rakeem Christmas in the paint to lay it in with just a few seconds left in a tie game, but Syracuse hung on for the victory, 71-69.
- I'll give props where props are due to Trevor Cooney and Rakeem Christmas in just a minute, but player of the game honors goes to Tyler Roberson. Off the bench, Tyler earned a double-double, with 14 points and 17 rebounds -- a truly impressive (and much needed) performance. What really helped was his eleven offensive rebounds. His 14 points, along with BJ Johnson's three free throws made, accounted for all of the bench scoring.
- Trevor Cooney was the team's leading scorer, with 25 points on 8-18 shooting (4-8 from three). Obviously, this amounts to a monster game for Cooney, and a great effort all Syracuse fans can appreciate, whether they're big Cooney fans or believe he's a villain. What was impressive about Cooney's game play, to me, was his ability to create offense without chucking up bad threes. He took advantage of open scoring lanes to the basket, as well as higher-percentage mid-range jumpers. Certainly a breath of fresh air!
- I'd also be remiss to forget Cooney's defensive effort. As he has been all season, he's been active in the zone, having three steals in this game along with other great defensive plays that don't show up in the box score.
- Rakeem Christmas had a nice 13-point effort, in only 25 minutes of play. Fouls limited much of his play, which ultimately led to Roberson's 33-minute effort.
- Kaleb Joseph continued his underwhelming point guard play: nine points, four assists, and eight turnovers playing all 40 minutes. It'll be a process. A frustrating one. I, for one, agreed with Boeheim's decision to let him play the whole game. He's not going to get better if we don't give him game experience, and since Syracuse led virtually through this whole game, this was a good game to get him that experience. A game where Syracuse needs to climb back might not get Joseph the same minutes.
Boeheim gave us another good post-game press conference. You can tell he's as frustrated as the coach as we are as fans. While he can't coach catching the ball, he can coach his players to grow up and realize they're in the big show now. Not NBA big show, but this isn't the high school gym in front of mom, grandma, and 36 other people. He recruited their talent; that's why they're in Syracuse. Getting them to use that talent, that's where Boeheim will show why he's a Hall of Fame coach.
Up next: Villanova. Ugh.