Orange Take First Shot At Boeheim’s 900th Win
The Orange brought Jim Boeheim one victory closer to 900 with an excellent second half on its way to an 85-61 victory over Canisius Saturday night. While Boeheim didn’t punish Michael Carter-Williams for shoplifting, one could make the argument that MCW punished himself by dishing out a sole assist in the first half. Unfortunately for Canisius, MCW saw the floor extremely well in the second half and handed out 13 assists to finish with 14 to follow up his 16-assist performance against Monmouth. In other words, Michael Carter-Williams had one assist in the first half and still finished the game with his second-highest total in that category on the year. It’s only mid-December, but I’m already running out of ways to explain just how good he is.
Carter-Williams wasn’t the only one to make some noise at the Dome. Dajuan Coleman looks more comfortable every game as he continues to use his body to create space and keep the ball away from opponents. While there haven’t been many opponents capable of giving Coleman trouble as of late, the reps he’s received since playing a very limited role in the Arkansas game ought to prove valuable as conference play nears and the level of competition is ratcheted up.
Speaking of the Arkansas game, it was a relief to see James Southerland bounce back. While it would have been foolish to think he’d be able to maintain the level of success he had in that game over a long period of time, it was nonetheless troubling to see him struggle as he did until Saturday night. At this point, I think it’s safe to assume that Southerland is like most shooters in that he’ll look like he could beat anybody one game and he’ll have other games where you’ll look at his line and wonder why he stayed in the game as much as he did.
Last season, the Titans won 13 of its last 15 games, including an excellent conference tournament run to seal a bid, before losing to Kansas in the first round of the NCAA’s. Despite returning three starters from that team and adding another experienced player, Nick Minnerath, to the starting lineup, 6-4 Detroit has needed two wins against non-DI opponents to stay above .500. Like Billy Baron, Ray McCallum, Jr., is in a starring role playing for his father and is the unquestioned leader of his team, averaging 19.4 points per contest. Detroit has three other double-figure scorers (Jason Calliste, Doug Anderson and Minnerath), but none of those players are very efficient scorers. The Titans have hit just 42.6% of their shots inside the arc this season, which is a worse performance than 300 Division-I teams.
Detroit stays in games behind an ability to hold onto the ball on offense and get steals on the defensive end. Despite averaging 9.6 steals per game, they’ve allowed opponents to score a league-worst 71 points per game. They’ve been merely average on the offensive glass and haven’t crashed the boards well enough on the defensive end to create the extra possessions necessary to make up for their woeful shooting.
G Ray McCallum, Jr. – Averaging 20 points, 5.7 assists and only 1.7 turnovers over his last three games
F Nick Minnerath – Averaging 15 points and 8.3 rebounds over his last three games
G Juwan Howard, Jr. – Averaging 15.4 points and only 1 turnover per contest over his last four games
G Jason Calliste – Shooting 9-29 from the field his last three games
F Evan Bruinsma – Averaging just 5.5 points per game since scoring 14 against Pittsburgh on December 1.
G Doug Anderson – Averaging 6.6 points per game in December after averaging 14.8 per game in November.
Two seasons ago, the Orange brushed Canisius and Detroit aside within two days, and I expect the same thing to happen Monday. Detroit stayed competitive against the Rick Jackson-led Orange in 2010, ultimately losing by 11, but I think everyone can agree that this season’s ‘Cuse team is better than that edition while the 2012-13 Detroit team is similar, if not worse than the 2010-11 team. McCallum, Jr. is still a draft hopeful and the Titans field a lot of experience in their rotation, but having veterans only takes you so far before the physical talent and skill sets have to present themselves. Detroit has only one starter taller than 6’6″ – Minnerath – but he weighs in at a lean 215 pounds, so the Orange should be able to throw its weight around down low once again. If Syracuse dominates the paint the way it can tonight, the team should also get some open looks from distance against a perimeter defense that has allowed its last six opponents to hit 45.3% of their threes. Look for the ‘Cuse to need to just one crack to deliver Jim Boeheim’s 900th victory in the team’s final tune-up before Saturday’s tilt with Temple.