“He’s a good shooter. He gives us a threat outside that pulls the defense out to him, which should open some things up inside. We aren’t taking advantage of that but we need to do that. It gives us an eighth guy. Seven guys are really not enough. You can get by with seven but if you have foul problems or if you get into a fast-paced game, you need that one extra guy. It gives us three forwards and we have three guards.” -Jim Boeheim on James Southerland following Syracuse’s 77-58 win over Pittsburgh Sunday.
James Southerland scored 13 points in his return from suspension as the Syracuse Orange took care of business against St. John’s Sunday afternoon in the Carrier Dome. The win extended the nation’s longest home winning streak for the ‘Cuse to 37 straight. The win kept the Orange atop the Big East, improving their conference record to 8-2. Jim Boeheim also recorded his 35th 20-win season of his career.
This was a big game for Syracuse to win. With a road trip to Connecticut coming up, it would have been easy to overlook this Sunday afternoon match up against a hungry Red Storm team. We saw a Syracuse team take care of a team they were better than, and left no room for an upset. The closest St. John’s got was five points early in the second half, but an explosive 10-2 Syracuse run put the Johnnies down for good.
More so than the game, the story was absolutely James Southerland’s return to the court following a six game suspension for eligibility issues. Getting Southerland back could be huge for Syracuse, as the Orange are getting back a player that spreads teams out of the pain, and allows more penetration for the guards. Don’t believe me? Just ask Brandon Triche:
“Emotionally we are more confident, obviously. You can make the extra pass and he’s going to open it up for everyone else. You are going to see Mike’s (Carter-Williams) assists go up. You will probably see my assists go up a little more. It just spreads the court out. I think what has been good is that we’ve still been getting to the basket well. Jerami (Grant) has been playing well without James. But now it’s going to be even more spread out. And now you are going to have a knockdown shooter from the three-point line.”
It will be interesting to see how the team molds going forward. I think this issue is gone and in the past, and I find it highly probable it will resurface like the Fab Melo situation last season.
The Orange next play at Connecticut Wednesday night.