Call me crazy Syracuse fans, but the fate of the Orange is going to come down to the next couple days. This current three game swing away from the Dome is the longest time the Orange men will be away from the comforts of the bubble until late season tourney action. This team still has me stratching my head sometimes, but the next few days will determine how the season will pan out. Yes I know it's still early but I truy believe that if SU escapes West Virginia and Notre Dame with two victories, this team is poised to make even more noise to conclude the second half of the season. If they go 3-0 on this swing, I may declare them Big East champs, and dare I say, National Champs.
Okay, I may be getting ahead of myself, but the talent is there, they just need to play.
Here's my keys to the remeinder of the season:
1) THE BIGS: AO and Rick Jackson are taking a lot of heat lately for their play. I personally believe AO is the best center to walk through campus since John Wallace, but most wouldn't agree. He is a wide body, and to finish strong for the year he needs to utilize his gurth and push some people around. Both he and Jackson need to lower some shoulders, push some bodies and drop some hook shots over the top. They have the power, the finess and even some passing ability from the post positions, now they just need to battle.
2) To the Point: Before this season Scoop Jardine was lost in the Syracuse roster to me. He was a promising player who never got the opportunity. But I've been impressed so far this year. Teaming along with Brandon Triche, a freshy still finding his legs, they've formed a formidable tandem to run the offense. I think they need to score when able, because they are both capable, but need to be distributorts first, and push the nation - leading assist totals. At times the game has gone too fast for the team as a whole, they need to play through the point position and be patient. It's up to Scoop and Brandon to keep the poise.
3) Andy Rautins: Don't press and do what you do. Although, I'm not really sure what he's good at anymore because his stat line seems full after every game. Keep in mind Andy may not shoot 50% from 3-point range every night, most shooters don't, but he brings grit to this team, something that shouldn't be ignored.
4) The bench: Mookie Jones and Kris Joseph have been explosive this year, and have given valuable minutes on the court. Joseph is explosive off the baseline and seems to be where he's needed at all time. Mookie is instant offense and melding with the starters. with each in the 6'6" - 6'7" range, it is vital to have long bodies on the floor in the Zone, and both need to keep up the intensity.
5) Be the Star: Wes Johnson has been known to float through games, so says many bloggers and fans. That needs to stop. Game in and game out Wes Johnson is a 20 and 10 type of player that I don't expect to stick around very long. But he seems comfortable to let the game come to him, which is not his strength. He's athletic, an explosive leaper, a terrific spot up shooter and a terrible assignment for any defender (forwards are too slow, gaurds are too short). The key is for Johnson to be involved and aggresive. This team needs him to be the star.
So that's it. This weekend we shall see what the season has to offer. Mountaineers, Irish, here come the Orange!
On a side note, did you see the Lady Orange off to a 15-1 start? Congradulations to an imporiving program that has continued to take great strides the past few seasons.