Orange, Rautins drive through the Knights

Syracuse guard Andy Rautins scored a season-high 23 points with nine assists in the 81-65 win at Rutgers Wednesday night. Rautins is the Honda Odyssey in fifth-ranked Orange’s crowded stable of victory vehicles.

Orange head coach Jim Boeheim has a basketball vehicle for every game he drives through. The veteran Big East coach knows every contest has a different course layout, an alternate track to navigate.

Some nights the road lays straight and wide, like an expressway. Boeheim moves the score with a large mass, either his A & O dump truck or his big Rig Jackson.

In Piscataway, New Jersey, site of Rutgers University, residents drive through life, one stoplight at a time.  




Start fast.

To pilot a national title contender, as Boeheim is doing this season, he needs to know when to drive the right car. Most nights it’s the Wexus J-Class (swing Wesley Johnson has a double-double tachometer) or the K-Jo-gee-nee (an Italian wow machine).

Tonight, Boeheim maximized his offensive energy with the minimalistic Rautins. A versatile vehicle, Rautins can pick up floundering passengers, and offenses, with an effortless triple (he hit four Wednesday and leads the team with 41) before stopping suddenly to deliver the kids to school: After a Cuse trap led to a turnover, the team captain turned up court with the outlet pass, braked hard to avoid committing an offensive foul on the set Knight defender, and snapped off a one-handed bounce pass to backcourt mate Brandon Triche that traveled over 60 feet and resulted in an easy layup and a 39-23 Cuse lead at intermission.

A low-maintenance stroke throttles the SU engine as it strains. Rutgers (9-7, 0-4 Big East) sniffed life midway through the second half with fearless shooting guard Mike Rosario launching from I-287 (he ended the night with 17 points on six-of-19 shooting).

“There’s no lead that’s really that safe in college basketball,” Boeheim in the post-game press conference video posted on

Rautins settled the pristine Orange attack (SU ranks with the nation’s best in field goal percentage and points per game), as the Orange calmly sank 79 percent of their free throws to seal the victory.

“(Andy) made a lot of plays,” said Boeheim. “He had a big game: steals, assists. He was much more aggressive today.”

Now, Rautins (pictured) isn’t the only high-efficiency motor in Boeheim’s garage: the sporty Mookiecycle revs up nice and loud, and with the K-Jogini nursing a flat wheel, the redshirt frosh showed the two-wheel transportation is just as good. Orange guard Mookie Jones was shooting sparks everywhere, scoring 11 points with four rebounds and two steals in 22 minutes.

“I thought Mookie came in and gave us a tremendous lift,” Boeheim said.

Jones wants to play badly, a feeling expressed earlier this year in a story by Mike Waters at The Post Standard, and his play (46.3 percent from beyond the arc this season) is proof enough.

It’s hard for Boeheim to pick the wrong vehicle this winter—the Orange (16-1, 3-1) rank near the top in the country in field goal percentage (53.2 at the end of the night) and points per game (85.2).

Put some snow tires on that mini-van.


Photo by Jamie De Pould/

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