With James Southerland out of the lineup because of eligibility issues, the Orange still toughed out a 72-61 win over Villanova. Here are some thoughts from the game:
It’s a different team without Southerland
This is probably an obvious statement but it was proven beyond a doubt today. This team is a whole lot different without Southerland on the floor. He was benched today until further noticed due to eligibility issues and it completely altered the team dynamic. It changed the way Villanova played defense. No longer did SU have a deep threat and it became harder to work the ball inside. The Orange defense is a lot less scary without James Southerland on the prowl. His long arms wreak havoc and ‘Cuse couldn’t forced a lot more turnovers with him in the game.
CJ Fair saves the day
If it wasn’t for CJ Fair, this season would be going a lot differently. He’s often been called the “glue guy” by national analysts but he’s proving to be more than that. Not only does he hold this team together, he leads it. When the team needs a spark, he’s there to ignite it. When the team needs to get to the bucket and score, Fair gets there. And even tonight when the Orange was ice cold from deep, CJ hit a three-pointer, which started a big SU run. Fair is the key to success for the Orange this season.
The young guys can step up when needed
James Southerland brings three important things to the table. The keys that the Orange needed to fill in his absence were his three-point shot, his size and his length. The three Orange freshmen stepped up and filled in where needed today. It was an extremely positive thing to come out of a pretty ugly game and an ugly situation. Cooney started off 0-for-4 from deep, continuing to struggle from three-point range. But he picked it up and hit two straight three pointers when the team needed it most. Jerami Grant scored a career-high 13 points. Grant contributing is so important because of his length. It’s a huge asset on defense and on the boards, just like with Southerland. And even Dajuan Coleman played meaningful minutes for the first time this season. He showed that he still needs work but is able to help out inside.