Syracuse Orange freshman forward Jerami Grant has had much asked of him in his inaugural collegiate season. Sometimes he is needed for two minutes, other times head coach Jim Boeheim has kept him in the full 40.
No matter how long he is on the floor, Grant stated at the beginning of the season that he wants to be "the energy". With a mere three minutes played in the team's Big East Conference Tournament win over the Seton Hall Pirates, Grant had two points, but they aided in affecting the atmosphere around the Orange. Speaking on those points that came off of a putback dunk, Grant said, "I just wanted to get in. We kinda got off to a rough start at first, so I just wanted to get in and bring everybody's energy up any way I could. I seen an opportunity and I took it."
Also taking opportunities was fellow forward, senior James Southerland, of whom Grant shared his opinion of after the win over Seton Hall. "James came out firing [against Seton Hall]," Grant stated. "He hit a tremendous amount of threes to keep us in the game in the first half. Without him, we probably would've been down 20 points in the first half, so we definitely needed his energy on offense and defense." "I definitely just wanted to bring everybody else up 'cause he was the only one that was really playing good in the first half," Grant added.
Bringing the game even at 34 at the break, Grant gave an inside look at the Syracuse locker room. "At halftime we just got together and said, 'We gotta do this. Everybody, we just gotta have fun,'" Grant shared. "In the first half, we really wasn't having fun, so we just wanted to come out in the second half and play like we did in the beginning of the season when we was having fun and winning every game."
Keeping with positive speeched, after their 61-39 loss on the road to the Georgetown Hoyas, Orange alum Etan Thomas came in to talk with the team. "He just told us we was a great team, we was a good team and just needed to play together as a team," Grant offered. "And I feel like we kinda got away from that for a little while and now coming into this game [versus Seton Hall] and playing like we did, I feel like we got our swagger back."
"Everybody's playing well as a team now and I feel like everybody had fun in the second half," Grant continued, "and that's one of the reasons why we pulled the game out."
When asked if the victory over the Pirates makes the team more at ease, Grant responded, "It definitely makes us more at ease. We know what we can do. Everybody had a great game...not just James [Southerland], he had 20 points. He's not the only one that played well. Brandon [Triche] had somewhere in the high teens, C.J. [Fair] in the high teens, Mike [Carter-Williams] had 14 assists and one turnover, so I feel everybody played well...Rakeem [Christmas] played great, Baye [Keita] played great, so everybody played great...we [are] gonna take the momentum going into the Pittsburgh game."
Without Southerland the last time Syracuse faced Pittsburgh, Grant played the entire match. Giving insight on the Panthers from that experience, Grant expressed, "They're definitely a physical team. We just gotta get on the backboard, rebound a lot, and I feel like if we do that, we can beat anybody, especially Pittsburgh. So, we just gotta come in with a lot of energy and play well."