A double-double from C.J. Fair and five three-pointers helped Syracuse outlast the hard-pressing Minnesota Golden Gophers, 75-67, at the Maui Invitational on Monday.
Still unbeaten, Syracuse will next face California in Hawaii on Tuesday night, but with five games in the books, the identity of this Syracuse men's basketball team is becoming clearer while the season forecast remains cloudy. There is obvious talent on this team, yet pegging the Orange as one of the 10 top teams in the nation seems a bit premature.
This is not to say that the Orange will not become one of the best teams in the nation as the season progresses, but before beating Minnesota, the Orange struggled to put two decent halves together in any of their four previous games.
Syracuse stayed poised and calm against the aggressive Gophers. Trevor Cooney looked more confident in going 5-of-11 from beyond the arc and the Orange shot better than 80 percent from the charity stripe, DaJuan Coleman continued to blossom in his role as cleanup man under the basket and there was even a sighting of an aggressive Rakeem Christmas.
The size of Syracuse will be tested against the longer and taller Golden Bears, which should reveal more about the maturity of Syracuse and the direction which it is headed.
For now, we will look into the crystal ball and try to see what changes may be coming for the Orange as the season barrels forward.