First basketball practice. Love the intensity of Hop. Nice to see the guys gettin after it.http://videos.syracu...ns_baske_1.html
Early on, I'm saying Triche and Southerland are going to be the 2 key players for us this season.
I think everyone can agree that the starting line up is going to be Onuaku, Jackson, Johnson, Rautins and Triche or Jardine.
Assuming this is our team, I see 3 glaring weaknesses.
#1 - Jackson is not quick enough to play the 4 for 30 minutes a game against every team we are going to go up against this year. We are going to need another legitimate forward who can step up and play big minutes at some point.
#2 - What happens to our O when Rautins has an off night shooting? Do we have anybody else who can make opposing teams pay from deep if they zone us?
#3 - How do we close out games? Late in games (when the ball cant go down low to AO or Jackson because they will be intentionally fouled) and the opposition is playing really tough D, who is going to break that D down and score the difficult points?
We need to find a way to answer these 3 questions if we are going to be a good team. If you notice, problems 1 and 2 can both be solved with a forward who is a threat from deep. We happen to have two of those guys on our roster, Jones and Sutherland (Joseph can also solve problem #1 if he develops). I got to see all three of those guys play more than once in high school (and obviously in the case of Joseph and Jones, more than once playing for SU). From what I have seen I would rank Southerland as the best of the three, Joseph as the second best, and Jones as a distant third, and I have thought this since they were all in high school.
Considering the fact that Southerland is potentially our best reserve forward, and he has the exact skills we need both defensively (the ability to cover the wings on the back end of the zone) and offensively (the ability to stretch the D by hitting 3's) he could play as much as 30 minutes a game if he is up to the challenge. I bet most people are surprised to hear that, but Southerland could essentially be our 6th starter if he is up to it . . . and in fact our team will only reach its potential if Southerland is capable of playing big time productive minutes.
The answer to problem #3 is a little harder. The easy answer is Johnson can fill the role of late game scorer, and as good as most think he is, I dont think he will be able to do it all on his own late in games without big time help from the point position. This is where Triche comes into play. First let me say that Jardine is better than most give him credit for. He's a big guard who is excellent defensively and an excellent passer. He is capable offensively although somewhat limited. Remember when he played as a freshman he was forced to play off the ball alongside Flynn. Give him the ball and let him run the show and he's going to be a lot better than most remember. My point is this, if Triche is going to start ahead of Jardine and earn big minutes it will mean that he's a heck of a player, because Jardine is going to be a lot better than your typical freshman point guard.
Triche himself is one of the most enigmatic recruits I have seen in a long time. I was the first on his bandwagon his freshman year in high school, and also one of the first off the bandwagon when he got injured. From what I saw he never fully regained his quickness and even late in his senior year when they won a state title he still seemed to struggle with smaller quicker guards.
Triche does, however, bring two elite skills to the table. First, he will be the best passing guard we have had in a long time. Wait until you see him in transition, he's remarkable. Even though he's not nearly as quick as Flynn he's much better in transition because he's bigger, stronger and a better passer
(and I think we all remember that Flynn was far from shabby in transition). Second, when he can get to the basket he's the strongest finisher
I have ever seen for a point guard. If he can get to the basket he will score, period, it will be an "and one" bonanza.
The only thing that will hold Triche back will be the inability to shake good pressure D. I'm just not sure he's got the quickness anymore. If he's a turnover machine who cant break down the D with his dribble he's all but useless to us late in the game when we are potentially going to struggle a lot. However, if he can deal with the speed of the college game, and get into the lane regularly, he can be as good as any point guard in the country, he's got all the other skills.
All I know is this, if we are going to be a really good team this year we are going to need MAJOR contributions from two low rated and lightly regarded recruits (at least by SU's current standards). I think we have all heard the reasons why both of these guys were rated too low by the "experts" and those reasons are valid, but I'll say this, neither one is a 100% cant miss prospect the way Melo was or the way Flynn was, and that's scary to me.
I see SU going as far as Triche and Sutherland take them. We've got some great known qualities on our team, but the guys we have are lacking in a few area's. Triche and Sutherland have the potential to give us what we need, and the more PT they earn early (even if it means a few early losses . . . which I do see in our future) the better it will be for SU come March.
Feels good to write an in-depth basketball report again.