It seems like I'm pointing back to this fact every week, but that 0-4 start in the ACC really hurt the Orange. They knew it, Jim Boeheim knew it, the fans knew it. And for a while, it looked like the season might be lost. But then Syracuse took out Boston College for their first ACC win. Then they went on a road trip to Wake Forest and Duke, winning both games in a span of three days, something most didn't expect them to be able to do. After a loss to Virigina, albeit very close, it looked like the Orange might leveling off, and still not be quiet able to get back to a respectable in conference record.
But then they returned home for a three game homestand, facing off against Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and tonight against Virginia Tech. Syracuse has won both of the first two games at home, and now sit at 5-5 in conference play, a goal that didn't seem all that attainable when you look back at the losses to Clemson and Pittsburgh.
Now, its almost like this is a new season, a new beginning for this team. But everyone knows their roles. Malachi Richardson doesn't have any freshman jitters anymore. Michael Gbinije has settled into his role as point guard and leader. Tyler Roberson is that high energy guy that does a little bit of everything. Tyler Lydon is the spark off the bench that contributes more to the team that people probably give him credit for. Trevor Cooney can light it up at any time. DaJuan Coleman has even figured out how to contribute despite his obvious inabilities because of his chronic knee issues.
But this team has figures out how to get their season back on track. It should be a fun ride the rest of the season.
Highlights of the Week
Richardson: 51 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 10 three's, 113 minutes
The freshman is playing like a freshman no more. Richardson has been playing like a man possessed since the start of the conference season, averaging 15.2 points per game. This week was no different. Against Virginia, he did all he could to help pull out the win, scoring a new career-high 23 points. He has shown over the past several games he can create his own shot on a consistent basis, but against Georgia Tech, he showed he can come through in the clutch, scoring all 13 of his points in the second half, eight coming in the final five minutes. Richardson was the star incoming freshman, and he continues to live up to the hype.
Gbinije: 55 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, 7 steals, 113 minutes
Gbinije has always been able to put the ball in the basket but as he made the transition from small forward to point guard, he's struggled with not being able to distribute the ball as a true poing guard needs to. It's been a slow transition, but he's finally coming around. He is the real leader of this team, the leading scorer nearly every night, and wants to make everyone better. This week was no different, leading the team in points and assists.
Lowlights of the Week
Lydon: 23 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists, 2 steals, 78 minutes
Against Notre Dame, Lydon had his best game since the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 boards. But when you look at his week as a whole, he just couldn't get anything going offensively and was just sort of there on the defensive end. Against Georgia Tech, he nailed two three's, and passed up on several othe open looks, which you really don't want somebody with his shot to do. He is great offensively, but for some reason lacks the confidence to show it and he's just as good on the defensive end, but is forced into playing a very unnatural center position. He does continue to grow, but he still has a ways to go.
It's a busy week for the Orange, playing three games in six days. That stretch starts tonight when Virginia Tech travels to the Dome. On Thursday, Syracuse will travel to Chestnut Hill to take on Boston College, the team Syracuse beat for their first ACC win. To close out the week, the Orange will finish off the short road trip to Louisville.