I managed to find the one downside with Syracuse being #1 and undefeated- I honestly have nothing interesting or, more importantly, new to write about. Most of the angles have been covered ad nauseaum, and really the only thing left to do as both a fan and columnist, is to enjoy the ride.
Sure as the season progresses lots of storylines will open up, and we can continue to speculate on just how far this team can go; but for now, I wanted to simply show this team my love.
That’s right, as my wife reminded me this morning, Valentine’s Day is just a week away. Let’s celebrate with the 11 things I love most about this Orange squad. (11 in honor of Tyler Ennis, who unsurprisingly will appear early and often on this list.)
- I love Tyler Ennis’ maturity. There is not a single player in the country with the poise of Ennis. The fact that he’s only a freshmen makes it doubly impressive.
- I love Jerami Grant’s athleticism. He’s been very productive with 13 ppg and 7 rpg, but let’s be honest, THE DUNKS! A Jerami Grant put back slam is one of the most exciting plays in college basketball.
- I love the offensive play-calling. I truly believe this is more Ennis than coach Jim Boeheim, but for the first time in years, our offense makes sense. The right players get the ball in the right situations. It doesn’t always result in a made bucket, but there are very few possessions where I find myself screaming at the television.
- I love Trevor Cooney’s lack of a conscience. He can go 0-for-10, but he’s still going to shoot because he believes he’ll make it. Better yet, his teammates believe it too.
- I love Rakeem Christmas’s emergence as a presence on the court. I was shocked when I looked at his stats from last year compared to this season. He’s playing almost identical minutes, averaging slightly less blocks and rebounds, while shooting at much higher percentage and averaging slightly more points. It may not show in the box score, but his presence cannot be denied. He’s carrying himself as big as his frame, and with statement blocks like the one against Duke, coupled with shooting 70% from the free throw line, he’s the center you want on the court at the end of the game.
- I love the Zone. You can shoot threes against it. That’s it. Duke did it better than anyone else could have. ‘Cuse still won. Case closed.
- I love C.J. Fair’s will. Star players sometimes fall in love with their own hype. They get lazy and believe they can do things they can’t. C.J. Fair just wants to win and asserts his will on games. Of his 28 points against Duke, 14 came in the paint and he got to the line six times. He would not be denied on his drive and, needless to say, he was the biggest reason for an epic win.
- I love being in the ACC. February 1, 2014: the day the longing for the old Big East officially ended.
- I love the confidence. With every win it becomes more and more palpable. You can feel it growing and it’s becoming a dangerous weapon for the Orange. Every single member of that team expects to win and will do what is necessary to make it happen.
- I love Tyler Roberson for next season. Just wanted it in writing. He’s going to be awesome…eventually.
- I love being a fan and rooting for this team alongside the best fans in college basketball. The energy of that record crowd at the Carrier Dome was awe-inspiring. It’s impossible to replicate in college basketball and shows me that there are thousands of fans that love these guys as much I do.