mvolain's Blog

Fair to return for senior year

Fair announces he will return for his senior year instead of declaring for the NBA draft.

It looks like the Syracuse basketball team won’t be losing a fourth starter to graduation and the NBA. CJ Fair decided Wednesday to stay for his senior year at Syracuse, according to SU Athletics.

“After talking it over with my family and my coaches, I decided another year at Syracuse was best for me,” said Fair. “I'm excited about working hard with my teammates to put together another great season and graduating has also been a goal of mine.”

A 6-foot-8 combo forward, Fair, who is a native of Baltimore, MD and a Brewster Academy product, weighed the decision of entering the NBA draft himself, after he spent this past season establishing himself as one of the best mid-range shooters in the NCAA. Fair originally wanted to declare for the draft, but wanted to make sure he was picked in the first round, since those players have guaranteed money. Fair received word from league scouts – through the Syracuse coaching staff – that he projected as a mid-second round pick, not a first round pick.

“C.J. Fair is a great character student-athlete who is on track to graduate, and obviously a tremendous player,” said director of athletics Dr. Daryl Gross. “We look forward to him leading our team as we enter the ACC. We all feel that his senior season will be remarkable.”

Down the stretch, junior CJ Fair proved to be the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team's most consistent, reliable, and overall valuable assets to the team. His importance to the team grew exponentially over the season and has skyrocketed since the season ended, which meant the loss of seniors Brandon Triche and James Southerland. Shortly thereafter, sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams announced his departure for the NBA draft.

Fair led the Orange with 14.5 points-per-game and 7.0 rebounds-per-game last season to go along with a nearly identical field goal and three pointer percentages (47.0 % and 46.9 %, respectively). His return will bolster a young team that includes the underperforming Trevor Cooney, DaJuan Coleman and Jerami Grant, all of whom will be sophomores next season. With both guards from the 2012 season departing, the Orange will look for Fair to play an even larger scoring role, as the Orange will turn to top prospect Tyler Ennis, Cooney and Duke transfer Michael Gbinje for their offense.

“This is great news for our basketball program and for C.J.,” said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. “I believe he's just going to keep getting better and better as a basketball player and earning his degree is important.” 

SU faces No. 12-seed California in third round

Two similar teams face off in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

The Syracuse Orange will take on a tough opponent in the California Golden Bears in the third round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday, after being handed a 48-point victory over the Montana Grizzlies Thursday night.

The Bears (20-11, 12-6 Pacific 12) have a very similar team to the Orange. California is similarly sized, has similar records, employs a successful zone defense and has an almost identical shooting percentage. Syracuse shoots slightly better from beyond the arc, but Cal shoots marginally better from the charity stripe.

Syracuse should have and advantage as far as depth. The Bears' top two players – junior guards Allen Crabbe (18.7 points-per-game, 6.1 rebounds-per-game) and Justin Cobbs (15.4 points-per-game, 4.8 assists-per-game) – are incredible performers, but the Bears offensively productive players seem to drop off there. Crabbe and Cobbs are the only players on the team in double-digits for points-per-game, while Syracuse brings four (Brandon Triche, CJ Fair, James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams).

Watch for the competition between the Bears' big men, junior Richard Solomon (8.5 points-per-game, 6.6 rebounds-per-game) and sophomore David Kravish (8.0 points-per-game, 7.0 rebounds-per-game) and the combination of CJ Fair, James Southerland and Rakeem Christmas. They match up size-wise, but each team brings a different style of offensive play. Also watch out for Baye Moussa Kieta, who is coming off a phenomenal all-around Big East tournament. Kieta will look to keep his defensive prowess going against one of the larger big men teams the Orange have faced.

The clear-cut difference between these two teams is in three pointers. Syracuse has made 87 more three-point field goals, and has two players shooting above 40-percent from three; The Bears don't have any. If the Bears are able to frustrate the Orange with their zone, and contain SU’s outside shooting, this will be a close game. If the Orange is able to spread the court and make their shots, this one could be over quickly.

The Orange and Golden Bears tip-off on Saturday at 9:40 pm.

Three thoughts on SU's monster second round victory

Fourth-seeded Syracuse rolled through thirteen-seeded Montana en route to an 81-34 thrashing in the second round of the NCAA tournament.


They are who we thought they were.

Montana is severely undersized, especially in comparison with Syracuse. The Orange were able to dominate the Grizzlies in every facet of the game. Be it shooting (52-percent vs. 20-percent), free throws (22 vs. 8), assists (21 vs. 5), turnovers (8 vs. 17), fouls (8 vs. 22) or overall points (81 vs. 34), Syracuse completely controlled this game, from tip to buzzer.



The Orange will go as far as Michael Carter-Williams takes them.

Carter-Williams scored only four points (more than three quarters of the Montana players), but had a prolific game nonetheless. Carter-Williams shot 67-percent in limited shots (2-for-3) and was a stellar distributor, dishing out nine assists. He has had nine helpers each of the last two games, and is averaging nine assists over the last five, including 14 against Seton Hall on Mar. 13. In games that Carter-Williams has seven or more assists, the Orange are 20-1, with their only loss coming in the Big East championship against Louisville. In games where he has less six or less assists, Syracuse is just 7-8.



DaJuan Coleman is going to be a monster.

Coleman has been strapped for playing time since returning from knee surgery, but was able to get 15 minutes off the bench in Thursday's blowout. In that time, Coleman scored 12 points (third on the team) and grabbed six rebounds (third on the team), including three offensive boards, which lead the team. Coleman played a lot more during non-conference play, highlighted by a career-high 14 points against Eastern Michigan and a career-high 14 rebounds against Monmouth. Coleman will be a major part of the Orange's offense in the coming years. 


SU heads to final Big East tournament

In the Orange's final tournament as a member of the Big East conference, Syracuse looks to end its recent woes.

When the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team takes the court at Madison Square Garden this Wednesday, they will begin their final Big East tournament. After this season, the Orange will call the Atlantic Coast Conference home, and play their conference championship at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The switch in conferences has been a point of issue for many of the university's sports, especially men's basketball, of which coach Jim Boeheim voiced his concerns early in the process. The move in conferences not only signals a change for the Syracuse sports teams, but also for the Big East as a whole, which will cease to exist in it's current formation, thanks in part to Syracuse's departure. The new Catholic 7 conference may adopt the Big East moniker, but naming and realignment have yet to be finalized.

Regardless of who is a member of a conference called the Big East (if one does adopt it) next year, this will be the finale in the Big East for the Orange men's basketball team. Since it's establishment in 1979, Syracuse has been a member of the Big East conference. The changing of the conferences comes at fitting time, with senior leaders Brandon Triche and James Southerland leaving after playing in their final season of eligibility. This one final Big East tournament should prove to be something special, with the finality of its existence.

The Orange, who have struggled mightily as of late, come into their final Big East tournament appearance with their worst regular season record since the 2008-2009 season. Syracuse (23-8, 11-7 Big East) will take on the winner of Tuesday's South Florida-Seton Hall game on Wednesday at 2 pm.

Syracuse is also in the midst of its worst stretch of games in recent memory. Syracuse has lost four of its last five and eight of its last 13. The last two Orange victories came against the perennial Big East bottom-feeder DePaul (78-57) and similarly weak Providence (84-59). The Orange's record ties them for fifth in the conference with Notre Dame, who will face the winner of the other play-in game between Rutgers and DePaul.

The Orange look to have a lack of identity, which at the end of the season is a major problem. Syracuse needs find out who they are during the Big East tournament, or it could be an early exit in the NCAA tournament.

Rumors swirl around the team, including head coach Jim Boeheim's possible retirement, assistant coach Mike Hopkins' supposed departure for USC, star sophomore Michael Carter-Williams potential entrance into the NBA Draft following the season. Of course, all of these rumors are just that until after Syracuse finishes their season. The Orange must find its away around these off-court distractions and on-court woes in order to leave the Big East respectably.

The Big East tournament signals a completely different style of schedule, going from games twice a week to a game almost every day. Whether the increase in the number of games will work in the Orange's favor is yet to be determined, but a change of scenery can't hurt the team that has looked lost at times.

Syracuse has the ability and should win at least one game in the Big East tournament. The Orange were one of the top teams in the nation a few weeks ago, and have proven to be an incredibly strong team against the weaker half of the Big East conference. Syracuse is also not automatically a loser in the Big East. In fact, each of the teams above Syracuse in Big East rankings could easily lose to the Orange. Syracuse beat Louisville, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame this season. SU only lost to Marquette by three points, and something suggests that the Orange would not let Georgetown beat them three times in one season.

Coming into the post-season on a losing streak is never something a team wants to do, but for a team that lost it's way about a month ago, maybe the dire situation of a win or go home situation will inspire the Orange, and they will make a good run in the Big East tournament. 

SU football players arrested on burglary charges

Two junior defense lineman face burglary and petit larceny charges following February burglaries.

Two Syracuse Orange defensive line players were part of four arrests made in regards to three burglaries dating back to Feb. 23.

Junior defensive end Markus Pierce-Brewster and junior defensive tackle Davon Walls were charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor petit larceny of an apartment on Winding Ridge Road in Syracuse, police said.

An Xbox videogame console, a flat screen TV, and some Xbox games were allegedly stolen from a South Campus apartment. The residents are said to have been sleeping while the burglary occurred.

Pierce-Brewster transferred from the City College of San Francisco last year, and recorded 30 tackles – eight of which were for a loss, in 12 games. He also recorded a sack and one fumble recovery.

Walls did not record any statistics in three games played this past season.  

“We are very disappointed and do not in any way condone the alleged behavior that resulted in these charges," Orange football coach Scott Shafer said in a statement. “This does not represent the core values of our program or the conduct expected of student-athletes representing Syracuse football. We will be following the judicial process and will act accordingly.”


Three thoughts on SU's loss to Marquette

The Orange dropped its second straight game, losing to Marquette, 74-71

Syracuse's best player is CJ Fair

Not Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Triche or James Southerland. CJ Fair. His 20 points against Marquette was the 12th time this season he has had 15 or more points. He has nine double-doubles on the season, including five in conference play.

The minor back injury Brandon Triche suffered isn't that minor

His game has clearly suffered, as evidenced by his third sub-10 point game in the last seven. Triche still leads the team in points-per-game, but his field goal percentage is at 38.3-percent in the last 5 games, while it usually around 42-percent,

The Orange need DaJuan Coleman back

Even if just for another big body to grab rebounds. They've been out-rebounded in all of their losses (with the exception of Georgetown, where they had 32 vs the Hoyas 30) since Coleman got hurt. Baye Moussa Kieta has been the one bright spot for a Syracuse big man corp that has seen the disappearance of Jerami Grant and Rakeem Christmas. 


Coleman out for four weeks following surgery

SU center DaJuan Colemon will need surgery for a knee injury suffered during the Orange's 75-71 loss to Villanova.

Freshman center DaJuan Coleman will miss four weeks following knee surgery on Tuesday, Jan. 29. Coleman needed the surgery after injuring his left knee before Saturday's loss to Villanova.

Coleman started each of the Orange's 20 games, but played sparingly. A native of Jamesville, N.Y., Coleman averaged five points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

With Coleman out, expect to see a bit more of both junior Baye Moussa Kieta and freshman Jerami Grant. James Southerland, who regularly replaced Coleman in the lineup a few minutes into each game, is still ineligible to play for the Orange.

It is unclear if coach Jim Boeheim will opt to move sophomore Rakeem Christmas to center and start Grant, or start Kieta.

The No. 6 Orange take on Pittsburgh on the road on Saturday.


Three thoughts on SU's upset over No. 1 Louisville

The Orange pulled off a huge 70-68 upset over the Cardinals Saturday night. Here are a few thoughts from the game.

Brandon Triche is back

After two rough games against Villanova and Providence, the Orange's leading scorer was back in the saddle for a team-high 23 points and added six crucial rebounds, the most he's had since grabbing seven against Wagner in the second game of the season. Syracuse will need Triche to continue stepping-up if James Southerland's offensive prowess remains removed from the lineup. 

Jerami Grant is James Southerland's replacement 

The freshman has responded well to added playing time. In the two games since Southerland's suspension began, Grant has averaged 11.5 points per game and five rebounds per game. He may not be the prolific three-point shooter Southerland is, but Grant's awareness and defensive prowess have been crucial for the Orange.

Michael Carter-Williams needs to learn to play Big East ball

After an eight-turnover performance against Louisville, Carter-Williams needs to look at what conference play has done to his game. Aside from the enormous dip his assists average took when the more physical play of the Big East began, he needs to adjust to the way teams are playing him. Carter-Williams is being forced to shoot more, and he must adjust and be more confident offensively if he wants to remain a force. A couple more games and he should settle in.

Breaking: James Southerland ruled out

The Syracuse University Athletic Department's Communication Office announced Saturday morning that senior forward James Southerland has been indefinitely removed from competetion.

Southerland will not compete in Saturday's home game against the Villanova Wildcats, the begining of his removal from competition.

Southerland was averaging 13.6 points per game, and was always the first man off the bench. In Wednesday's tilt against Providence, Southerland scored 13 points and had seven rebounds in 38 minutes of play.

Due to student privacy rules, no further details have been made available. 

Syracuse outlasts Providence

Although the Friars led at halftime, the Orange came back in the second half to secure its third Big East victory, 72-66.

When the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team has close games, CJ Fair shines. That remained true in Wednesday nights' 72-66 victory over Providence College.

The junior led the No. 7 Orange (15-1, 3-0 Big East) with 23 points and 11 rebounds. He was 9-for-10 from the line and also added four blocks.

The Friars (8-7, 0-3 Big East) were led by Bryce Cotton, whose stellar three-point shooting led to 17 first half points. Cotton finished the game with a game-high 24 points, but was mostly shut down in the second half. He was 5-for-5 from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes, but missed his last three three-pointers.

Three games into conference play, the Orange and head coach Jim Boeheim seem to be settling into the way they will run their games. Although he still leads the nation in assists, sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams saw his assists-per-game average drop from above 13 to just under 10. Carter-Williams is scoring more though, as many Big East teams are employing the tactic Providence used Wednesday night, covering everyone else, and forcing him to make shots.

Carter-Williams still had a team-high six assists, along with five rebounds, so his type of play has not changed too dramatically. He was second on the team with 17 points.

Starting center DaJuan Coleman played the first two minutes, but sat on the bench for the rest of the game, replaced by senior forward James Southerland. The other members of the so-called second unit, Baye Moussa Kieta, Jerami Grant and Trevor Cooney, each got in only two or three minutes of playing time a piece. With the entirety of the game held within 10 points, there was not much of a desire for Boeheim to use them.

The Orange's usual sub-par free throw shooting was not an issue in Wednesday's tilt, as the team went 17-for-18 from the stripe. However, the percentage from behind the arc was a dismal 3-for-21, including 1-for-8 shooting from Southerland, who still managed 13 points.

Sophomore Rakeem Christmas added a career-high 15 points for the Orange.

Next, the Orange take on the Villanova Wildcats on Saturday January 12 at noon at the Carrier Dome.