Syracuse crushed the Wagner Seahawks today by a 31-point margin as the Orange took Jim Boeheim Court for the first official time this season. But even in a blowout, you can learn a lot about a team. Here are a few things I noticed today:
1. Trevor Cooney is a huge asset defensively.
We all know he can shoot the ball, but I don’t think that’ll be where he’s most needed for the Orange this season. Cooney dropped eight points today on just 3-of-7 shooting. He wasn’t anything spectacular offensively, so why did he play 20 minutes? His defense was a huge reason. It seemed like every time the Seahawks tried to make a pass, Cooney was in the lane deflecting it. He came up with six steals today and was an important part in keeping the game at a fast tempo. As the season progresses, the Orange will need to keep forcing a fast paced game and Cooney will be a big part in doing that.
2. Michael Carter-Williams makes the team so much better.
At times, his play seems erratic and today, his shooting was off the mark. But with Carter-Williams in the game, the Orange offense runs so much more efficiently. Carter-Williams is emerging as a heck of a passer and even though he scored just six points today, his 11 assists made up for it. The shots will fall for Carter-Williams as we saw during the SDSU game, but when he’s operating on all cylinders he’s going to be a dangerous player for opposing defenses.
3. Shut up, ESPN. We have a go-to guy.
The big media criticism for last year’s Orange squad was its lack of a “go-to guy”. I’ve even heard the same complaints about the team this season during season preview shows. But Brandon Triche has proven that he can, and will be, the go-to guy for the Orange. Triche put up 21 points today and even grabbed seven rebounds. But what I like most about Triche is his demeanor. He started off a little slow today and didn’t get frustrated at all. The guy has ice water in his veins and continually has the same expression on his face. That’s a key characteristic when I think about a go-to guy. If the Orange are down late in a close game, I’m extremely comfortable if Triche has the ball in his hands.
4. Coleman still needs work, but that’s O.K.
Many expected DaJuan Coleman to step in right away and be explosive for the Orange. Well, that hasn’t quite happened. The big fella turned the ball over five times today and just looked uncomfortable under the basket. It’s going to take time for him to step into his shoes, but with the recent emergence of Baye Keita, it’s perfectly fine that Coleman needs some time. Keita has stepped up in a big way for the Orange. He grabbed five rebounds and scored a career-high 15 points in just 13 minutes of play today. With him picking up the slack, Coleman can take as much time as he needs to be ready to dominiate.