Cuse Country

Home Away From Dome for Syracuse Orange Fans

Terrence’s knee

Posted by syracusan on February 24, 2007

It’s always something, isn’t it? Just when we’re in a position to get excited about the team, a major cloud starts to hover. Overall, this squad has worked incredibly hard to turn their season around, and a lot of individual players have made impressive strides. It’s very easy to root for these guys, when you consider how far they’ve come. But this injury to Roberts could easily derail the whole thing. There’s a developing major crisis of bench depth, and no matter how well the top 5 guys are clicking on the court, it’s an unsustainable situation to have zero healthy and/or quality guys in reserve.

There are several factors at play here. The first is that it’s become increasingly clear that Josh Wright not being on the floor is a major help. It probably would have happened a long time ago, but Jimmy had to stick with him because no one was stepping up with an alternative option. Boeheim needed one of three things to happen: a backup guard like Rautins needed to step up his play sufficiently to force his way into the lineup, Devo needed to prove he was capable of playing point guard, or Paul Harris needed to prove he could run the team in the half court with some consistency. Somewhere around mid-February, option 1 came to fruition. Option three is starting to look good as well. (Option 2, Devo running the show, is still non-functional in my opinion.)

So now we can get Wright off the floor as much as possible, which is an obvious requirement for consistent victories against top 100 teams. Apparently the excuse for his limited PT today is that he had the flu, but lets be honest: for a month now it’s been clear that the team plays better without him. Regardless of his illness today, I expect his minutes will continue to dwindle. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom is right and J-Wright bails after this season. Especially with a monster recruit like Flynn coming in at his spot next year. More importantly, as Wright’s minutes have been inching down, down, down, the team’s offensive efficiency and dynamism have simultaneously been inching up, up, up.

So we know that Josh being on the floor is a bad thing. We also know, and have known for a long time, that Matt Gorman being on the floor is a bad thing. The problem is, that only leaves the team with 6 players capable of contributing positive minutes. For the moment, we could survive on that: the season is 90% over, the league is weak, and in the NCAAs (should we be so lucky) teams have plenty of time to rest. We won’t be able to make a long run in the BE Tourney due to exhaustion issues, but hopefully we won’t need to. So in some ways, things are falling into place, and if a 6 man rotation is what it takes for this team to click, then so be it.

But now comes Terrence’s knee, and suddenly the situation looks untenable.

The ironic part is that SU has found it’s magic formula on the court, and it doesn’t involve Roberts. The best 5 on the floor, in terms of balance, chemistry, rebounding, offensive flow, and defense, is Devo, Rautins, Harris, Nichols, and Mookie. So it’s OK for Terrence to rest his knee for long stretches of games. However, he absolutely has to be at least available to come in and help out. Mookie will have games in foul trouble, we’ll have games where our interior defense is getting shredded (like today), we’ll have games where the opponent has huge guys on the front line and we need help on the boards. And frankly, we can’t have Mookie, Nichols, and Harris playing 39 minutes a night, or they’ll collapse. Terrence needs to be there, or this whole grand resurgence will be for naught.

It’s frustrating, because if he were healthy I could buy into the concept that this team is starting to peak and that we might, MIGHT, have a chance to make some noise in the postseason.

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