The Orange gets by

SU got off to another slow start, but was able to turn it around with a strong second half to top Canisius 86-67.

There was a sense of déjà vu for the SU men’s basketball team Sunday afternoon in its home matchup with Canisius. Much like SU's opening night victory versus Northern Iowa, getting out of the starting blocks strong proved to be an issue once more in the Orange's 86-67 victory over the Golden Griffins.

"We need to get realistic. Right now, we’re the most overrated team I’ve ever had.” -Jim Boeheim

It was the experienced group of Brandon Triche, Rick Jackson, Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph that put an end to any upset ideas from a feisty Canisius team. Triche ignited a spark in the second half with a barrage of 3-pointers to lead the way with 24 points. Jackson and Jardine each poured in 17, with Joseph chipping in with a hard-earned 10.

But SU head coach Jim Boeheim didn’t have the look or sound of a victorious coach. As soon as he stepped to the podium, he aired out his displeasures.

“We need to clarify some things here, because we have no depth," Boeheim said. "We don’t have anybody that’s proven themselves off the bench. All I hear about is what depth they’ve got. Give me a guy that’s done something. The only guys we have on our team who’ve done anything are Brandon, Scoop, Ricky and Kris Joseph. We need to get realistic. Right now, we’re the most overrated team I’ve ever had.”

Canisius did not show any fear of the Dome crowd with an alley-oop dunk from Syracuse native Elton Frazier to get things started. Thus began a battle of back and forth between both squads.

Greg Logins was instrumental for Canisius early on with three shots from beyond the arc. His second near the mid-way point of the half gave his team a 19-18 lead. This was followed by shots from Julius Coles and Robert Goldsberry that increased the lead to four at 25-21.

SU ended the half with a run of its own. A driving Jardine found Joseph under the basket for a lay-in and foul. Jardine took it all the way himself on their next possession with a driving left handed lay-up off the glass for the 32-29 lead at half-time.

“I can’t explain it,” Jardine said regarding the first-half doldrums. “I don’t know what it is. We’re gonna try to figure it out tomorrow and Tuesday. Try to pick it up. We gotta do a better job of getting out early. We can’t do this come the Big East.”

Freshman Fab Melo gained position deep in the paint for an easy lay-up to start a 7-0 run for the Orange out of the locker room. Canisius still showed fight during the early minutes of the half. Logins knocked down another trey to make it a 41-37 game. This was the closest they would get.

SU saw its lead balloon to 14 after Jardine put a spin move on his defender at half court before dishing it off nicely to Triche for a reverse layup. Jackson really got the crowd into it with two monster dunks. The first came from a Dion Waiters pass on the break. And then his slam off a Waiters missed layup put the game out of reach at 72-50 with just fewer than seven minutes remaining.

Triche, who only had five points in the first half, thinks he knows the cause of the slow starts.

“I think everybody is kind of nervous,” he said. “I know for me, a little bit is being nervous and trying to find my spots. Not trying to force anything and see how the defense is playing.”

If Triche was the backcourt anchor in the second half, Jackson was certainly that for the frontcourt. Jackson pulled down 13 rebounds, ran the floor and also showed a nice face-up jumper on the block twice.

“I’ve been working on that the whole summer,” Jackson said. “Just catching and shooting. Especially in the middle, I’m really the guy that flashes and I wanted to be able to create more when I catch the ball. It’s falling right now, so I’m going to keep shooting until coach tells me not to.”

When hearing about the overrated statement by his coach, Jardine agreed.

“Coach knows best,” he said. “He knows what this team needs. He’s making it clear. You want a coach like that to challenge this team.”

At 2-0, the Orange will play the third of four straight home games Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Detroit of the Horizon League. Boeheim said SU's early schedule, which includes Michigan and Michigan State, will force his bench to grow up quickly.

“They’ve got a very good team,” Boeheim said of Detroit. “It should be a real good test. We schedule these games, they’re not easy teams. They are teams we should beat. We don’t have any games that are real easy. The veterans can probably win these games like they did today. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Tale of two big men

There seemed to be a role reversal for SU’s two freshman big men.  Melo played just 13 minutes as he struggled with foul trouble. He was called for his third in the first half. Baye Moussa Keita was huge down low with 15 rebounds in 17 minutes.

Jackson says he continues to give Melo encouragement.

“I told him he got to just move his feet,” Jackson said. “I think he’s trying to wall up and I mean he’s getting called with the little tedious fouls. If he goaltends a couple, it’s better than fouling out. When a guy like that goaltends your shot, it sort of sends a message. I think Patrick Ewing used to do it all the time back in the day.”

Moussa Keita, a 6-foot-10, 213-pounder from Senegal knew he had to step.

“When he got in foul trouble, I was the only big man,” he said. “I had to help the team because they needed me.”

Boeheim put his performance in perspective.

“We don’t win tonight without him,” he said. “He’s been the biggest surprise. He’s playing against 6-6 guys. He’s going to be playing against 6-10 guys and 250-pound guys pretty soon. But he was good out there tonight.” 


Kris Joseph rises to the basket against Canisious's Robert Goldsberry during Sundays game in the Carrier Dome. (Photo: Nate Shron)

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