As we countdown to the start of the college basketball season, The Juice Online will tackle a burning question about the Syracuse basketball team in “Tipoff Countdown.”
Today’s topic: Syracuse hasn’t had a true “go-to” player since Wes Johnson in the 2009-10 season. The Orange have instead opted for a more balanced approach in the last two years, as no player as averaged more than 15 points. Who, if anyone, will become SU’s go-to scorer this year?
Syracuse lost nearly 58 percent of its scoring punch from last season with the graduation of Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph, and the losses of Fab Melo and Dion Waiters to the NBA.
Jardine, Joseph and Waiters all shared the title of “go-to” scorer, each possessing the ability to create their own shots, and the mentality to have the ball in their hands with the game on the line.
Now that the scoring trio is gone, the Orange are left with a group of talented, but mostly unproven, group of players. Among those who may step into the role (based on 2011-12 stats):
- Brandon Triche: 22.5 mins, 9.4 ppg.
- CJ Fair: 26.4 mins, 8.5 ppg.
- James Southerland: 16.0 mins, 6.8 ppg.
- Michael Carter-Wiliams: 10.3 mins, 2.7 ppg.
The case for Triche: The safe pick here is Brandon Triche because he’s got the most experience on this team and he’s shown, at times, he has the ability to score in bunches. I had a chance to speak to him at Big East media day a couple of weeks ago and he was talking about how he was going to enjoy becoming the “go-to” guy. Last year, he didn’t play down the stretch as SU coach Jim Boeheim opted for Waiters and Scoop. That won’t happen this year. He’s going to get every opportunity to score. –Wesley Cheng
The case for CJ Fair: Fair is expected to be one of the primary offensive contributors. His mid-range jump shot is already solid and he’s shown flashes of a decent outside shot (despite shooting only 25 percent from 3), but if Fair is going to make The Leap and shoulder a significant portion of the scoring load, he’s going to have to be able to put the ball on the floor and knock down a higher percentage of his long range shots. –Nate Federman
The case for Carter-Williams: MCW had limited time last year. When given the chance, he was a star. Whether it was draining the long 3 or posterizing God’s Gift Achiuwa, you know he has the talent. He was just sitting behind a fifth year senior and a lottery pick to try and get time. The last six games Syracuse played, he had zero minutes. Can’t contribute if you are not on the floor. He has worked on his handle in the off season and ‘Cuse is thin at the guard position this year. He will get a lot more playing time and I think he has more of a level head than Dion did to start off his second year. –Saugat Sen
The case for James Southerland: Simply put, Southerland is the most dangerous offensive player on the team. He’s so athletically gifted and can hit, as Gus Johnson once said, shots from “the parking lot.” While he hasn’t been able to put it together for a full season, Southerland repeatedly has told us that he’s ready to be more of an impact player this year. Although he’s probably not going to start, Fair didn’t start last year either, yet Fair played the second most minutes on the team. –WC
While one of the above mentioned “big four” is likely to play a leading role, there are two potential sleepers on this year’s team:
The case for DaJuan Coleman: [He’s] is a good offense player on the lower blocks. Now, maybe you’re not going to get the ball to him in an endgame situation, but over the course of a game, the first 38 minutes of the game, other teams are going to have to respect him. He has a nice offensive repertoire for a young kid. —Mike Waters
The case for Trevor Cooney: If we are talking dark horse, what about Cooney? Boehiem has been raving about him and he gained a ton of knowledge on the bench all of last year. He’s the best pure shooter Syracuse has had since Andy Rautins and they’ll definitely find time for him. Plus, he’s going to have to play since SU only has three guards this season, and Triche and MCW aren’t going to play 40 minutes a game. –SS