Grant to continue starting despite Southerland’s return
Jerami Grant made it too difficult for head coach Jim Boeheim to take him out of Syracuse’s starting lineup. So for now, he’s not going anywhere.
Boeheim said after the Orange’s 77-58 win against St. John’s that Grant will continue to start and the message will be the same: “Get out there and play good.” Grant played 15 minutes Sunday, and finished up with four points on 2-of-5 shooting. It was the fewest minutes he’s played since Jan. 9 at Providence, though his playing time isn’t likely to dwindle much more.
“He got a great experience. He really came through big time, tough situations,” Boeheim said. “We won four games out of six, that could’ve been two out of six very easily. To play those games with seven guys was a very difficult stretch. Jerami stepped it up big time.”
Grant earned his first start in the Orange’s game at Pittsburgh last week. The loss of DaJuan Coleman, who had knee surgery and is out for four weeks, pushed C.J. Fair to power forward. Grant stepped in at small forward and thrived. It was a physical game against the Panthers, but Grant held his own to finish with five points and five rebounds.
Against Notre Dame on Monday, Grant was dominant. He scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and grabbed six boards. Both performances proved Grant could not only be a formidable starter, but that he could also keep up in physical, aggressive games.
“They’ve been a good experience just to know that I can be on the court and I can play with anybody else in the NCAA,” Grant said. “It just helps me realize how good I am, and how comfortable I am out on the court.”
Grant’s ascension to a playmaking starter was even more critical, as Syracuse was without James Southerland. The senior forward averages 13.6 points per game. Grant scored at least 10 points in four of the six games the Orange was without Southerland.
“Jerami did a great job,” Southerland said. “Even though he didn’t get as many minutes as he did the last time, 40 minutes, he’s definitely going to bring it in the tournament when we need him the most.”
Grant said after Saturday’s game that he doesn’t feel he has “competition” with Southerland. But like they did against St. John’s, they’ll likely continue to sub in and out for each other throughout the rest of the season.
While Southerland will begin games on the bench, Grant will be in the lineup from the opening tip.
“He’ll start, he’ll continue to start the rest of the year,” Boeheim said. “He’ll get a lot of good minutes, productive minutes.”
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