College Basketball: C.J. Fair Is the Key to Syracuse Winning a National Title

Eric HampfordContributor IIIJanuary 18, 2012

Syracuse role player C.J. Fair
Syracuse role player C.J. FairPatrick McDermott/Getty Images

Every team needs a "glue guy." Someone who does the little things a team needs for it to be successful. Whether it be playing great defense, setting screens, diving for loose balls or setting the table for teammates to score. If the Syracuse Orange look to continue their historic season and culminate it with a national championship, they will need their "glue guy" to step up. That player, is C.J. Fair.

Every year, the team who cuts down the nets in April has the consummate team player who fulfilled his role to the absolute maximum. Connecticut's team last year counted on freshman forward Roscoe Smith and 2010 champion Duke looked to senior Lance Thomas, a captain who made sure he did everything in his power to lead the Blue Devils to victory.

The 6'8" spidery sophomore has the skills to start for almost any team in college basketball, but instead plays his role for the incredibly deep Syracuse team. While he isn't even the sixth man for SU, that distinction goes to super-sub Dion Waiters, he brings a dimension that nobody else on the roster can.

If you watch the 2011-'12 team play, there is an eerie resemblance in his game to former Syracuse player Josh Pace. If you remember correctly, he was the role player who helped Syracuse to their 2003 National Championship in his sophomore season. 

He used his lengthy and athletic frame to score when necessary, grab crucial rebounds, and hound the opposing team's most talented offensive player. His statistics showed the stability he supplied for the Orange. In the NCAA tournament, he averaged 8.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals.

The similarly long and lean C.J. Fair is producing similar averages for his team so far, with 8.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals. He also brings an added dimension that the 6'6" Pace could not, and that is his ability to be an electric finisher.

At any moment during a game, he is capable of taking the roof off of the Carrier Dome with an emphatic dunk that energizes the team and turns the momentum in favor of Syracuse. 

He may not get the press and fanfare of SU stars Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters and Fab Melo, but if the Orange want to make it to New Orleans this April, the willowy C.J. Fair is the key to their title run.