Freshman forward Jerami Grant has been no exception to the rule this season. In Syracuse's first 16 games, Grant averaged a little over 11 minutes per contest. Grant played in less than 10 minutes of seven of those 16 contests.
But, circumstances this season circling around senior forward James Southerland has shaken up the normal distribution, resulting in Grant having an opportunity to spend more time on the court.
"What happened with James [Southerland] was unfortunate, but at the same time, we've been moving on," said Grant. "I feel like that allows me to play a lot more minutes and just my mindset is just to come in and be as aggressive as I can on offense and defense."
"I just feel like coach [Boeheim], he's gonna do whatever it takes to win," a humble Grant continued. "So, if that's somebody else playing more minutes than somebody else then that's what it is."
In the first three games of Southerland's absence, Grant has played 29, 35, and 28 minutes, respectively, going from being on the floor for less than half the game to the exact opposite. During those three games, he has recorded double-digits in points in back-to-back games for the first time in his young career and added 28 points overall.
After scoring 13 versus Villanova followed by 10 against Louisville, Grant amounted five versus Cincinnati. "I felt like I still came out and was aggressive even though I didn't score as many points as I did the other day, the other couple games," Grant expressed." "But, I feel like it was a good win for us, a tough win for us, and I feel we can build off this."
As far as what Grant specifically wants to work on, he expressed, "Just everything, my all-around game. Just whatever my team needs me to do, that's what I wanna do."
Earlier this season, Grant said one word when asked what he wanted to be for the team: Energy. After slightly edging Cincinnati, Grant described what that word means to him. "Energy is like whatever my team needs me to do," he remarked. "If they need me to grab a lot of rebounds, then that's what I do. If they need to score, come in and get some quick scores, that's what I do. Just whatever my team needs me to do, hustle plays, dive on the ground, everything."
Grant has brought in at least five rebounds in each of the first three games without Southerland on the floor. This marks the first time all season that Grant has achieved a minimum of five rebounds in three straight games.
Even more important is that his rebounds are not merely coming at one end of the court. In the team's first three matches without Southerland combined, Grant has seven rebounds on the offensive end and 10 defensively.
He has also achieved at least one block in each of those three games, marking the first time Grant has ever blocked a shot in three consecutive matches.
Though not typical, Boeheim's decision to elevate Grant's playing time in the sans-Southerland era has worked in favor of Syracuse, as this slice of the Orange continues to ripen.