Working Toward A Grand Finale

The senior forward has no intent on ending his final season early as he eyes Georgetown, the Big East Conference Tournament, and the larger NCAA Tournament ahead. He speaks with inside.

The key outside performer for the Syracuse Orange, senior James Southerland, will be playing in his last Big East Conference regular season match when the Orange take on the Hoyas of Georgetown.

He enters this game having undergone adversity earlier on this season. Southerland was held out of six games due to off the court concerns, spending off a month watching.

Being given the opportunity to come back and get in front of the hometown crowd at the Carrier Dome before closing out his collegiate career has been important to Southerland. "It definitely means a lot," said Southerland. "I felt like I was here competing with my team and also giving the fans something to cheer about."

Despite the team's recent struggles, including losing three straight to the nation's top 25, Southerland's hopes and what he believes the team is working toward has no limit. "Just glad to be back and we definitely plan on pushing for a Big East championship and an NCAA championship," Southerland stated.

Leadership is a necessity moving forward for the Orange and looking back on day one of his career at Syracuse to now, Southerland believes that is where he has grown the most. "I feel like being a leader, definitely leadership," Southerland shared when asked about where he has had the most improvement. "I feel as if it's great to lead a team, even when we're struggling. It's definitely the hardest thing to lead a team when you're struggling. It's hard to bring the guys together, but I feel like we're definitely gonna do a good job further on as a team."

Syracuse will have their challenges ahead. Finishing inside the home of longtime rival, the Georgetown Hoyas, will be followed by the Big East Conference Tournament, featuring teams that have bested the Orange is six of their last 10 games. On top of that, all of their remaining contests will be played away from the Carrier Dome, the venue where Syracuse flourished the most this season.

But struggling on the road, where the Orange have gone 6-5, is not a concern for Southerland. "I'm not really thinking about that," Southerland shared. "Just go out there and get Georgetown and definitely win the Big East Tournament."

Also not a concern for the senior forward is losing any confidence in his shot despite having trouble scoring from beyond the arc, including his 1-for-10 performance versus the DePaul Blue Demons. "I'm just very confident," Southerland remarked. "Shooting is nothing I really think about. When it falls, it falls. If it doesn't fall, there's other ways to score and just going out there and just competing. That's the main thing."

No matter where Southerland helps the team go from here, he is happy that he was able to share it with fellow senior, guard Brandon Triche. "It's definitely a good thing," Southerland offered. "Brandon, since he's been here, started every game, home game for sure, and it's been great that both of us was able to lead the team in the last Big East home game."

They will now have the opportunity to lead the team into their final Big East game and into their last Big East Tournament. Where they go from there will be left up to their shared veteran leadership and the help of their brethren on the court.

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