MBB : Grades are in: With tough stretch coming up after stellar 1st half, SU gets mid-season report

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Scoop Jardine: B+Jardine has his moments in games that make any SU fan cringe, but in the end, he has been the primary conductor of a well-oiled Syracuse machine that, until Monday in Pittsburgh, remained undefeated. The good (dominating games against Detroit, Drexel and Providence, for example) has outweighed the bad (at one point, a 9-for-42 stretch from the field).Brandon Triche: BTriche started off slowly, scoring in double figures only once in SU’s first nine games. In the 10 contests since, he has done that in eight. The height of Triche’s increased contributions came on Jan. 8 at Seton Hall, when he scored 15 second-half points and helped a shaky Orange offense escape an upset bid by the Pirates.Kris Joseph: BJoseph has been solid, and as a result he was sorely missed in Syracuse’s loss at Pittsburgh. He leads the team with 14.6 points per game. Fair or not, though, he’s going to be compared to Wes Johnson, at least this year. And Joseph hasn’t shown that special dynamic or the ability to carry his team to victory on his back — yet.Rick Jackson: AWithout a doubt, Jackson has been the Orange’s most important player to this point. Without him, close wins at the beginning of the season would have been losses. He has been a near automatic double-double, and only five other players in the nation have more than him.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFab Melo: DMelo has shown flashes in a few games. But for the most part, he has been a large disappointment from his status as the No. 4 center in the 2010 recruiting class, according to Scout.com. At times, he has looked lost in the middle of the 2-3 zone. He gets into foul trouble too easily, and he has much to improve on the offensive side of the ball.Bench: BJim Boeheim has used a deeper bench than his usual seven- or eight-man rotation, and every member has contributed something. Boeheim has been able to trust using nine or even 10 in his rotation. Dion Waiters has been the most consistent spark, averaging 6.9 points per game and handling the ball well as the first guard off the bench.Coaching: ABoeheim has done some of his finest work with this squad. From calling the team ‘overrated’ in its second game to reeling off 18 straight victories to start the season, Boeheim has motivated and managed his team correctly at most steps. The extension of trust in his bench also has allowed him to put his rotation in the right spots to succeed — without a star like Wes Johnson was last season.Team MVP: Rick JacksonThis is a relatively easy one. Though Kris Joseph has been Syracuse’s leading scorer, and Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche have both pulled their own weight, Jackson has been nothing short of dominant. After seemingly every game, the one constant in Jim Boeheim’s press conference is that Jackson played well. The numbers back that up, too. He’s averaging a double-double (13.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game) and leads the Big East in field-goal percentage (58 percent).Most Improved: James SoutherlandLast season, Southerland played in just 13 games and didn’t receive significant minutes in any game that really mattered. This year, he’s playing meaningful minutes and making the most out of it. His numbers are up across the board, and perhaps more importantly, Jim Boeheim trusts him enough to let him on the court against the top teams SU has faced this season. Biggest Surprise: Baye Moussa KeitaAfter DaShonte Riley was lost for the season, it became evident Moussa Keita would provide minutes. What weren’t expected were 17.3 minutes per game and 1.2 blocks per game. The reason for Moussa Keita’s increased role: the inability of Big East Preseason Rookie of the Year Fab Melo to contribute a solid body in the middle of SU’s 2-3 zone. Moussa Keita has provided that in doses prior to the Pittsburgh game.Biggest Disappointment: Fab MeloMelo has been a bust through 19 games. It’s that simple. Even if the Preseason Big East Rookie of the Year accolade was a bit ambitious, an average of 11 minutes and two rebounds per game is indicative of bust status. Boeheim hasn’t minced words with Melo, even if he is careful, cautious and understanding of his progression. If Melo doesn’t provide a defensive presence, he won’t play. At all. See Pittsburgh.— Compiled by The Daily Orange men’s basketball beat writers Brett LoGiurato, Tony Olivero and Andrew L. John Commentscenter_img Published on January 18, 2011 at 12:00 pmlast_img

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