This is Part II of a 9-day extravaganza that takes a look at each expected rotation player for Syracuse’s 2012-2013 season. I’ll discuss some of their career in Orange up to this point, and what I feel needs to happen with that player for Syracuse to make a Final Four run.
We start our coverage with Syracuse’s most experienced returning player, James Southerland. Huge thanks to Orangehoops.org for all of the valuable research material.
Check out the Brandon Triche wish list here
James Southerland, Senior
Role: Bench, 6th man
Best Case Improvement: Consistency
We all know what can potentially happen when Jimmy is on a roll. Syracuse doesn’t win those first two games in the NCAA tournament without James Southerland. That being said, Southerland was also buried on the bench for some huge stretches last season, despite many people calling him the “X-factor” during that time.
Like Brandon Triche, Southerland has been a part of this historic run for Syracuse basketball that has seen 91 wins in three seasons. Unlike Brandon, Southerland has been erratic and spotty, with far too much reliance on a three pointer and not much else.
Anyone who’s seen Southerland warm up before games knows that he is quite possibly one of the best athlete’s in college basketball. Unfortunately, the same could be said for Terrance Williams, James White, and Stanley Robinson in college. Athleticism doesn’t always translate to an all-around game. The fact the James is about to be a senior doesn’t give me a ton of confidence in him suddently being able to dribble, so I’ll throw that wish out the window. However, given the fact that his role will be more established this season than any other, I am holding out hope that he develops a certain type of consistency to what he brings to each game.
With any shooter, shots just aren’t going to be falling some nights. We can’t blame Southerland for the inevitable 2-9 or 3-11 games he will have this season. However, given his certain role as a 20-plus minutes per game player, his defense and rebounding need to be there each night. I loved the smaller lineup look last season when James would play power forward alongside Rakeem Christmas and CJ Fair.
A 6-9 forward that can bang threes gives SU a huge match up advantage against basically any team they’ll face, and we know that we can expect that same forward combination many times this upcoming season. The success of this rotation will be dependent on Southerland’s ability to not shy away from contact in the post and rebound consistently. This is the year the James needs to step up and be that dynamic difference that he’s shown flashes of for three years. I see his role as being a perfect sixth man that can come in and instantly provide offense with a unique lineup change. Also, he’ll have less pressure while coming off of the bench yet still be confident in the amount of minutes he’ll play.
When hitting from deep, Southerland is a great weapon that any team in college basketball would like to have. In the upcoming season when his shot is off, I’m hoping James can find ways to impact other facets of the game, as well. That would go a long way in making the Orange a national contender.
– Kevin Cartini
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