Syracuse players know the team’s depth is likely to play a key role in its success this season.
The fifth-ranked Orange should again be able to display their numbers when they host Albany on Tuesday night as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
One of the deeper teams in the nation with eight key contributors back from last season’s 27-8 squad, Syracuse (2-0) has shown off its depth while averaging 85.0 points in victories over Fordham and Manhattan. Five players scored in double figures - including two off the bench - while starting point guard Scoop Jardine did not have a point in the Orange’s 92-56 win over the Jaspers on Monday at the Carrier Dome.
“We’re really dangerous. I didn’t score and we still won by 36 points,” said Jardine, who averaged 12.5 points last season. “I’m happy to be a part of something like this where it’s not really all on my shoulders. When I contribute, it’s going to be big and it’s going to make us even more dangerous.”
Dion Waiters had 17 points and fellow reserve James Southerland added 15 as the Orange led by as many 40 points against Manhattan. Senior Kris Joseph also scored 15 to surpass 1,000 points for his career while 7-footer Fab Melo had 11 points, nine rebounds and four of Syracuse’s 10 blocks.
The Orange also used its defensive pressure to force 28 turnovers and hold the Jaspers to 31.6 percent shooting.
“A game like this you know you’re capable of doing it, so we’ve got to keep doing it, no matter who the opponent is,” said Joseph, who has 31 points and 12 rebounds over the first two games. “We know that we’re able to pressure guys. We have the athleticism, we have the length and size to do it.”
Waiters, who averaged 6.6 points in 34 games off the bench as a freshman last season, has totaled 31 in the first two of 2011-12.
“They’ve normally been a seven-, eight-man rotation. Now, they can play 10 or 11 and you can’t wear them down,” first-year Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said of the Orange. “They can hurt you in a lot of ways.”
That’s the major challenge Albany (1-1) will face as it tries to avoid dropping to 0-9 all-time against Syracuse.
“I would venture to say this might be the most talented team they’ve had in years,” Albany coach Will Brown said. “They’re so deep. We’re going to go out and play our butts off. We need to be aggressive and attack.”
Junior guard Gerardo Suero scored 29 points and Logan Aronhalt added 19 with 13 rebounds as Albany defeated Brown 77-68 on Monday at the Carrier Dome. Suero had 17 points in Albany’s 89-56 loss at No. 9 Pittsburgh on Friday.
Joseph and Jardine each had 12 points in Syracuse’s 75-43 victory in its last meeting with Albany on Nov. 9, 2009, in the opening round of the 2k Sports Classic.
The winner of this contest will advance to the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 23.