Monday Morning Catch-Up
As Syracuse continues to roll through the toughest part of its, schedule, today is a good time to pause and look at some of the recent highlights, especially those that surfaced in the Orange’s big win over UConn Saturday. Of course, the Huskies’ season has been something of a nightmare between the lack of chemistry on the court and Jim Calhoun’s health issues keeping him off the sidelines. Credit UConn for battling hard until a backbreaking 22-6 run to close the game did the Huskies in for good. While casual observers may take look at the box score and see that SU’s walk-ons ran off the final minute of the game, it was definitely closer than the final score would leave one to believe.
- Scoop Jardine turned in a spectacular performance, going 8-9 from the floor while leading the team with 21 points, including two late threes in front of the ‘Cuse bench to gain separation from Connecticut. He also had a great game as a distributor with six assists and just one turnover, bringing his A/TO ratio to 51:14 over the last nine games. At the beginning of the season, I thought Jardine was a known commodity as an erratic point guard who was just as a capable of being a liability as he was a scoring threat. After going 1-7 from the field against Georgetown, this was a very good bounceback effort. With Brandon Triche getting some splinters from riding the bench, we may just have to let it ride with Scoop.
- Don’t look now, but Kris Joseph is shooting 60% from three in his last two games following a horrid 3-27 stretch. Oddly enough, he was 1-7 inside the arc Saturday, and it’s worth noting that he played 80 minutes against Georgetown and UConn, and with a quick turnaround to play Louisville tonight, it will be interesting to see if he shows any signs of fatigue. But if he does…
- …I think we’ll be able to rest easy after C.J. Fair played the best game of his career in an Orange uniform on Saturday. I’ve brought this up a few times, but it still bears repeating: While I can understand why the comparison is easy to make, Fair is capable of a much better career than Josh Pace when all is said and done, and he’s well on his way – Fair posted a double-double in conference play as a sophomore, whereas Pace’s only double-double came against St. Bonaventure in his senior campaign. If 33,000 people saw the same thing I did Saturday, I’d like to think fans can move past the similarities and respect Fair for the player he is. While Pace gets a little more cache in the eyes of some for the role he played in SU’s championship run, I think Fair can open even more eyes if he gets the opportunity next month.
- Staying with the frontcourt discussion, if Fab Melo can continue to step back and hit 15-18-foot jumpers, it will be that much harder for defenses to stay on him. With no real post moves to speak of, most of Melo’s scoring has come off pick-and-rolls and offensive rebounds. I don’t know how comfortable Jim Boeheim feels about Melo stepping out (he expressed some displeasure not too long ago), but I’m sure his tune will change if he keeps hitting them.
- While Connecticut and Louisville haven’t been nearly as formidable as most thought at the start of the season, we saw Saturday that the Huskies can hang with any team when things click, and Louisville has quietly won seven of its last eight games after sliding to the middle of the Big East standings. The Orange got one monkey off their back last month when Pitt was dispatched at the Dome for the first time since 2003, and now the team will try to win at Louisville for just the second time in the regular season since the Cardinals joined the Big East.