Grant turns in another strong performance off bench; Christmas adds 11 points against Long Beach State

first_imgJerami Grant’s confidence is growing. The 6-foot-8 freshman forward has displayed his ability to make a difference off the bench for Syracuse.He can get to the rim and finish. He can cause problems with his long arms in SU’s 2-3 zone and full-court press. And he can knock down open jump shots, extending out to the 3-point line.All of those attributes were on display again in Syracuse’s 84-53 win over Long Beach State on Thursday night in the Carrier Dome. Grant finished with nine points – going 4-for-7 from the field and 1-for-3 form beyond the arc – and grabbed five boards in 21 minutes of play.“It definitely felt good getting on the court. Definitely my confidence has been going up lately,” Grant said. “I feel like I just got on the court and was aggressive for my team.”His aggression translated to more minutes as SU head coach Jim Boeheim has seen positive developments in his game. Grant was coming off a season- and career-high 11 points against Eastern Michigan on Monday night. The rookie forward feels that performance helped lead to his season-high minute total on Thursday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I feel like I’ve played well the last couple games so that definitely helped me out confidence-wise,” Grant said. “And I definitely feel like coach is noticing and playing me a little bit more.”His teammates have noticed his potential, too. It’s something that was on display throughout his time on the court against Long Beach State.Grant knocked down a midrange jumper. He hit a 3-pointer, and he finished in the paint. But his most impressive play came in the second half when he glided along the baseline and effortlessly finished a two-handed slam.SU junior forward C.J. Fair has taken Grant under his wing, helping him get the most out of that talent and ability.“He reminds me a lot of me my freshman year,” said the 6-foot-8 Fair. “In practice I just try to give him a little few pointers about how to make yourself available on the offensive end and going to the glass because he got the ability to do it.“He’s 6-8, very long arms and athletic so he got the ability to do it.”Boeheim said after the win Thursday that Grant is already making a difference when he gets on the court. But right now, veterans James Southerland and Fair will get the minutes in key situations as the season progresses.“He certainly has proven that he can bring something to the table and it’s great for him getting this kind of experience,” Boeheim said. “This will help him not only this year but it will help him going forward.”Christmas comes earlyRakeem Christmas might have missed two defensive plays starting off the game, but he made up for it on the offensive end.The Syracuse forward was 4-of-5 from the field for 11 points in his 21 minutes on the court. Christmas made two straight dunks toward the end of the first half that helped the Orange balloon its lead to 42-26.Christmas was matched up against Long Beach State forward Dan Jennings, who transferred from West Virginia after two years.“It was good competition, a strong, big body,” Christmas said. “That’s the type of stuff we’re going to see in the Big East this year.”Boeheim said after the game that Christmas got in good position at different times for Carter-Williams to feed him the ball. But Boeheim also said Christmas needs to have more of a presence at the defensive end of the floor.“He’s got to be more of a factor on defense. The first two plays of the game, he was in a position where he could’ve made a defensive play and didn’t,” Boeheim said. “We need him to make those plays down there.”Christmas is critical for Syracuse’s defense in the low post, especially with freshman DaJuan Coleman still adjusting to playing at the collegiate level. Boeheim said after Monday’s win over Eastern Michigan that the progress of Coleman and Christmas is going to be a major factor in determining how good Syracuse can be this season.“It just fuels us. Basically, he just wants to hold the paint down in there, on the wings and in the post,” Christmas said. “We come out there, and we have to be big bodies. We have to run out on shooters, and just come out and do it.” Comments Published on December 7, 2012 at 1:09 am Related Stories Fair gets on track with double-double against Long Beach StateFAIR SHARE: Five SU players score in double figures in rout of Long Beach Statecenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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