Southerland impresses in win, grabs surprising 11 rebounds to lead SU

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm James Southerland’s over-the-top screaming as the point man on Syracuse’s full-court press elicited the thought of one name for Scoop Jardine. The verbal berating of the Kutztown in-bounder on the end-line and the rebounds added to the comparison. And when combined with Southerland’s surprising team lead with 11 rebounds on the night, it reminded Jardine and Kris Joseph of Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah. ‘We call him Joakim Noah because he was out there doing everything,’ Jardine said. ‘We need a player like that on this team who is going to take that role and play it to the best of his ability.’ A year after playing to the best of his ability as the freshman who lit up the scoreboard in SU’s 2009 season-opener with 19 points, Southerland let that spotlight slip to his competition for playing time at forward in freshman C.J. Fair. But Southerland made sure to have another high-level game in his second career exhibition opener with those double-digit rebounds in 23 minutes. The sophomore went 0-for-5 from behind the 3-point arc. SU starting center Fab Melo and backup big man Baye Moussa Keita were the two Syracuse freshmen big men expected to control the boards. But the wiry 6-foot-8 Southerland was in the right place at the right time for a slew of rebounds. On one of his four offensive rebounds, he put back a dunk on a Mookie Jones-missed 3-pointer.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text But more than that, in SU’s exhibition, there was an exhibition from Southerland that he hopes will help him see minutes in the competition at forward among him — Jones and Fair. He promises he will be able to rebound for SU head coach Jim Boeheim and the team this year, even if the 11 on Tuesday came against a team with its tallest starter standing at 6 feet 7 inches. ‘I feel like everybody on our team could score, so I felt like I needed to be the guy who was very active,’ Southerland said. ‘Hitting the boards, getting defensive rebounds and steals, fitting in. Because everybody on this team can score.’ In his postgame press conference, ‘active’ was a word that surfaced for Boeheim as well. He described the game as such roughly a half-dozen times and commended Southerland for his performance under the boards as such as well. ‘James did a good job on the boards, and they were an active group,’ Boeheim said. For Southerland, a year after playing the role of Fair in 2010, his focus simply came down to activity. Activity enough to become SU’s Joakim Noah. For one game, at least. Said Southerland: ‘That was my main focus — getting deflections, steals, rebounds, some blocks.’ Perfect from the line? Syracuse shot 100 percent from the free-throw line in Tuesday’s exhibition. Syracuse — yes, Syracuse — went 13-for-13 from the stripe in the game. But you would have never known it after listening to Boeheim’s postgame press conference. Despite being known as a program that year after year is one notorious for poor performances from the line — Syracuse shot 67.7 percent on free throws in 2009-10 — Boeheim didn’t touch on the subject after SU’s win. He didn’t even hint at it. It was a similar reaction from Joseph as the number failed to register with the junior small forward. When told SU was perfect at the line, Joseph looked shocked. ‘What?’ Joseph said. Joseph was 1-for-1 from the line, as Fair led SU by going 4-for-4. Jardine hit three, and Moussa Keita and Jones hit two. And from here on out, Joseph hopes the 20 minutes at practice the Orange devotes to the line will foster similar numbers to Tuesday’s. Numbers he will be sure to be aware of. ‘We practice free throws a lot, obviously, and they say that hard work pays off,’ Joseph said. ‘We sacrifice 20 minutes of practice toward free throws, 1-and-1’s and shooting twos.’ A business of T-shirt’s and bracelets Kris Joseph let it be known on Tuesday. For this Syracuse group, Big East champion isn’t enough. Joseph feels this group was supposed to — and should — have done more last season. After losing as the West Region’s No. 1 seed to eventual national finalist Butler, there is unfinished business to be taken care of. Business that was on display via the Orange’s warm-up shirts and on bracelets. Across the front of the shirt, it reads what Joseph and the bracelet read, ‘Unfinished Business.’ ‘In our hearts we feel like we could have gone further than we finished last year,’ Joseph said. ‘That’s why we call it ‘unfinished business.” aolivero@syr.educenter_img Commentslast_img read more