Finding Success As A Chameleon

The young forward has worked to overcome numerous changes in his playing time, providing necessary aid to the Orange on both sides of the floor in his first season.

In this his inaugural season as a college basketball player, Syracuse Orange freshman forward Jerami Grant has had much asked of him.

When fellow forward, senior James Southerland, was held off the floor for consecutive games, Grant went from playing less than 10 minutes to playing in no less than 27 minutes per game in that six-game span. During two of those contests, Grant never came out once, competing on the court for all 40 minutes.

Since the return of Southerland, Grant has seen his minutes decrease once again.

"It's definitely been a little tough, going from playing 40 minutes to playing six or seven, something like that," Grant shared. "Definitely been tough, but at the same time, I just do whatever it takes for the team to win."

Grant stated at the beginning of the season that he wants to be the team's "energy", and whether he is in two minutes or 30 minutes, he is learning to live by that statement, be it through a dunk, a steal, a block, or any other positive contribution.

Versus the Indiana Hoosiers, Grant's block on junior forward Will Sheehey with under nine minutes to play helped continue the positive flow of the Orange defense.

"I definitely didn't wanna give up any easy baskets, so when I seen [Will] Sheehey cut backdoor, I figured he was gonna...try to reverse it or something like that, and he actually tried to dunk it, but I got there in time," Grant stated.

The young forward added three rebounds defensively, as well, all of which led to scores, with six points coming off of his play on the defensive glass.

On the offensive end, Grant got himself to the free throw line, making both, and illustrated his healthy relationship with the man who has gained some of his minutes, Southerland, when the duo teamed up for Grant's slam.

"I definitely just wanted to come out and be aggressive on the offensive end and the defensive end, and just do whatever it takes to help the seniors go out with a blast," said Grant.

He and the Orange are succeeding so far in that, defeating the top-seeded Hoosiers to head to the Elite Eight for the second season in a row.

"It means a lot, just beating probably [who] most people say is the best team in the country," Grant expressed on himself experiencing what it is like to beat a talented team like Indiana so early in his collegiate career. "They've been number one for more than everybody else this year, so definitely means a lot beating them in the NCAA Tournament where it really counts."

Shifting his focus to Syracuse's next opponent, the Marquette Golden Eagles, Grant offered, "They definitely bring a sense of toughness. They're one of the toughest teams in the Big East to play. They're real strong down low. We just gotta look to stop [Davante] Gardner on the post." Gardner had 26 in the Golden Eagles 74-71 win over the Orange back on February 25th, a career single-game high well above his season average of a little over 11 points per game.

Though Syracuse has found success with their own zone, their opponents have also fared well when instituting their own zone against Syracuse, one of those teams being Marquette.

With the potential of seeing zone again from the Golden Eagles, Grant offered his take on whether or not he believes the Orange are better prepared for it the second time around. "Definitely," he stated. "We already played 'em once. We know their tendencies and things like that, so we'll definitely go over it in practice."

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