The Syracuse basketball team hit the road Tuesday night for the first time in the ACC. The Orange went into a quiet Cassell Coliseum and got a 72-52 win over Virginia Tech, which moved second-ranked Syracuse to 15-0 and 2-0 in its new conference.
With an unblemished record, players on any team are going to put up some first-rate stats. So which numbers are most impressive for Jim Boeheim's big guns? Let's break down the best for each Syracuse starter.
Since Jerami Grant and DaJuan Coleman have both been starters, we included both in this list.
Alright, we may have taken some liberties and combined a few stats into one here. The ratio used is a full illustration of how well Tyler Ennis takes care of the rock.
Ennis averages 5.6 assists and only 1.2 turnovers per game. That margin is impressive enough. But add in the 2.6 times a night Ennis picks an opponent's pocket, and you have a truly outstanding ball-control ratio (5.6 + 2.6 = 8.2 assists and steals against 1.2 turnovers; a 6.8-1 ratio).
We include steals here because they help mitigate turnovers by taking a possession away from the opponent and providing an extra scoring opportunity. So Ennis produces almost seven combined assists and steals for every one turnover he commits.
That is remarkable for a freshman point guard playing 32.7 minutes per game. Without Ennis' steady hand, the Orange may not boast a flawless record.
This one requires far less number-crunching. You had to know this one was coming, too. In splashing 48 of his 106 three-point attempts, Trevor Cooney is shooting the long ball at a 45.3 percent clip.
He's breathing down Matt Roe's neck for the school record for season three-point percentage (Roe was 83-of-175, or 47.4 percent, in 1988-89).
It's pretty safe to say Cooney is going to shoot more than 175 threes this season. Whether he catches Roe remains to be seen. But after Cooney struggled last year and shot just 26.7 percent from three, Orange fans are thrilled to pieces with Cooney's performance thus far.
Where else could we go? C.J. Fair leads the team in scoring at 17.2 points per game.
As the preseason ACC Player of the Year, teams know Fair is going to get the ball. A lot. Yet he is still able to make defenses pay with his smooth mid-range game. He's just about automatic from 15 feet. If he cuts down on his turnovers, his scoring average could get even higher.
Fair has scored in double figures in all but one game this season. Excepting his seven-point outing in the St. Francis rock fight, Fair has scored at least 13 points each game.
Having already hit a number of big shots late in games, Fair is the unquestioned go-to guy on the team. He knows his number is going to be called when Jim Boeheim needs a basket, and so far this year, Fair has delivered when his team has needed him most.
Despite missing the first game and coming off the bench in all but the last three, Jerami Grant pulls down 6.1 rebounds a night. That is tops on the team.
We've talked before about Grant's unbelievable athleticism, and that is what allows him to be so effective at cleaning the glass. He can outjump just about anyone in the country. And if he's working on the offensive glass (2.4 offensive rebounds per game), he can grab the rebound and dunk all in one motion. No need to come down with it and go back up when you can just do this.
With DaJuan Coleman returning to action against Virginia Tech, it will be interesting to see if Grant goes back to the bench or stays in the starting five. Either way, he is a game-changer for Syracuse.
He hasn't gotten there much, but when Rakeem Christmas gets to the charity stripe, he is surprisingly consistent. The big man has made 20 of his 28 freebies, good for 71.4 percent. In his first two seasons, Christmas only managed about 57 percent from the line.
If Christmas gets more aggressive underneath, he could find himself earning trips to the foul line more often. Based on his performance thus far, Syracuse fans can feel pretty confident when he steps to the line.
Also worth noting is Christmas' 76.2 percent field-goal percentage. Christmas is 32-of-42 on the season, with most of his conversions coming on lob dunks and shots right at the doorstep. With a minimum of 100 attempts, the school record for shooting percentage is 66.7 by Arinze Onuaku in 2008-09. So Christmas has an outside shot at getting there if he keeps it up.
In 13 games this season, DaJuan Coleman has grabbed 31 offensive rebounds. That's about 2.4 a game, and Coleman only sees 13 minutes each game.
Prorate that to starter's minutes (say, 30 a game), and you get 5.5 offensive rebounds a night. That would lead the nation.
Injury and defensive inefficiencies have left Coleman as the odd man out of the center rotation. But Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone isn't easy to learn, so it will take Coleman some time to earn more minutes. But if he masters the zone and learns to keep the ball high when he has it in the post, Coleman could turn into a dominating paint presence for Syracuse.