I know it’s only two games in but I’m liking the domination. Tonight SU clobbered the poor Manhattan Jaspers, who returned the favor by clobbering SU players all night long to the tune of 25 personal fouls, including ten within the first five minutes or so of the 2nd half. A generally free-flowing and fun first half gave way to a rough and ugly eyesore right after halftime, as SU missed numerous open shots while Manhattan decided their best chance to get back in the game was the hack-an-Orange strategy (too bad Shaq wasn’t still around). Once they realized that putting SU on the line wasn’t going to make a difference in the game, they more or less backed off and let the last 12 minutes play out to everyone’s relief.
Although I would have liked to see SU crack the century mark (free fries!) the 46-point margin of victory was probably more satisfying, particularly due to the exceptional defensive display which engendered it. Manhattan has some good shooters on its squad. There were a number of guys who showed themselves more than capable of draining open threes. But the good news of the night is that SU gave them very few such open looks. The Orange spent about half the game in man-to-man and half in zone, and in both defenses they were all over the Jasper snipers. They constantly disrupted whatever sets Manhattan was trying to run. And on those occasions when Manhattan got the ball deep in the paint, most of the time they got their shot rejected or altered by the swarming long arms of the SU back line. 10 blocks for the Orange, and 15 steals. Manhattan shot under 32% for the game.
This is the kind of game that, say, Donte Greene’s team would have won by a score of 94-81 or something. You can see that everyone on the current edition of the Orange has bought into the idea of high energy and effort on defense. Even a guy like James Southerland, who everyone - myself included - assumed would be squeezed out of the rotation because “all he does is shoot”. Tonight he had 6 rebounds (his second-best single-game total ever) and a block, and played excellent defense on the wing.
In fact, if anyone got “squeezed out” tonight, it was Scoop, who played only 15 minutes — and it seemed to be fewer, as he didn’t do much to make an impact on the game (0 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast). Not that he needs the playing time; at this stage of the season I’m glad Michael Carter-Williams is getting some extra development time and that Dion Waiters is coming into his own as a legit threat on both ends of the floor. This particular game it was Triche who got them going in the early stages, and then Kris Joseph had his own mini-explosion midway through the first half to open up the big lead, and that was basically the ballgame. With those guys scoring at will, Scoop didn’t have to do anything but sit back and facilitate, or even just get out of their way. I’m not worried about him. He’s a senior, he’s proven to be capable of handling himself. Going scoreless in this blowout game isn’t going to bother him. And you and I both know that the time is going to come soon enough when his leadership and skills are desperately needed. At that moment, he will be ready to respond.
So all in all, an excellent performance by SU to properly whip Manhattan, who incidentally is the only team out there with an odd number of hands on its roster. I was glad to see Kevin Laue get in the game. I first read his inspiring story a couple of years ago in the New York Times but I never saw him play until now (not including YouTube highlight clips). An amazing guy.