Saturday, November 27, 2010

Breaking Down the Legends Classic Win

Syracuse is the 2010 Legends Classic Champion. A victory in Saturday night's final over Georgia Tech earns the Orange its third straight MTE Championship. The Orange won the Coaches vs Cancer last year and the CBE Classic two years ago. The win was the Orange's 13th straight victory in an MTE event.

There were a lot more positives in Saturday night's 80-76 win over Tech than there were on Friday. Kris Joseph once again excelled offensively. Despite spending nearly half the game on the bench in foul trouble, Joseph led the Orange with 19 points. And when he is making open jump shots it really makes the offense that much better. He seems to be adjusting to his role a bit more now, and fitting in as the offensive leader of the team. It was a good tournament weekend for him.

I also liked the play of Dion Waiters. We said this morning that somebody had to step up off the bench and contribute offensively. Waiters made his first four shots and finished with 13 points. C.J. Fair continues to do the right things off the bench and I think he will fill a necessary role all season.

Scoop Jardine had 15 points and 8 assists in the Orange's most efficient offensive effort of the year, but Jardine still made some silly offensive decisions. Yet he seems to guard with the ball in his hands the most. Sophomore Brandon Triche doesn't seem overly comfortable without the main point guard role. Triche is still very capable but he doesn't seem to be really factoring in.

The most consistent performer all season has been Rick Jackson. He was again this weekend. He continues to get his points and rebound well. He's averaging a double double thus far and is one of the area's the Orange knows what it is going to get from.

I wrote a little this morning about the Orange needing an identity. SI's Seth Davis, who worked the tournament for HDNet, talked a little bit about it tonight. He thought the Orange actually began to establish an identity this weekend. I'm not totally convinced of that, but I do believe that one part of what he was saying was accurate. His belief is that the Orange's identity is going to be a blue collar workmanlike team. That it isn't going to come as easy as it did last year - and that it is going to take some time. I can agree with all of that, but I need to see more of the same to believe that all of that is going to happen consistently.

Neither Georgia Tech or Michigan is a great team. And actually they both are probably NIT teams at best. Yet the Orange couldn't put either away this weekend. Both games went down to the wire, although tonight's never needed to get close again and wasn't in doubt in the final minute.

Cornell will provide a chance for the team to grow and the matchup with NC State (who I think will be a tournament team) comes next weekend. So we'll see how this all shakes out.

The parts for this team to be good are there. Just as of right now they haven't figured out which piece is which. Or at least they haven't figured which parts fit together best. But that is what everything before March is supposed to be about.

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