It does beg the question, though, what is going to happen to the Orange when Rautins has an average night? It’s unreasonable to expect him to continue at a 60% clip (though I’m sure his few remaining critics will bash him next time he goes 1-4). During this four game losing stretch the Orange would likely have lost to St. Johns and Providence if Rautins had made one less three in each game, and both the South Florida and UConn games were close until about 3 minutes to go. In both those cases, if Rautins hadn’t been hot, Syracuse could have been trailing with about 3 minutes to go, and that changes the entire complexion of the team.
Over the same four game period, Eric Devendorf has shot a horrendous 14 of 50 from the floor (28% !!). Demetris Nichols has made some big shots, but he’s mired in a 16 for 48 slump (33%). I guess hope is there is Rautins starts to shoot more human, that Devo and Nichols might both pick up their scoring.
Cuse Country points out that the current configuration of Devondorf, Rautins, Nichols, Harris and Watkins is likely the best Syracuse combination on the court. I agree with that, and I do think it has the best chemistry. Boeheim has struggled all year with how to get Harris on the court, and the key really is that the 6’3” Harris (there’s no way he’s his listed 6’5”) is a much better power forward than any other position, and the loss of Roberts is opening opportunities for Harris, in many ways.
First of all, Harris is only effective if he can drive to the hoop. With Harris, Roberts and Watkins all on the court at the same time, that’s three Syracuse players and three defenders all hovering around the hoop. Far too much congestion. So if you take Roberts off the court, there’s some space beneath the hoop for Harris.
Second, when you have three shooters on the court like Rautins, Devo, and Nichols, the defense has to spread to cover them. That opens up the interior even more for Harris to operate. It also allows players like Rautins to make a nice cut to the hoop through a clear lane (and he made a beautiful move today that Harris promptly rewarded him for). So Harris as a ‘point forward’ seems to work well.
Third, with three perimeter players already on the floor, you need to have some inside guys, which means Josh Wright is off the court, allowing Harris to play 'point forward' and handle the ball more, something he is comfortable with.
As Orange fans we’ll have to be very concerned about the six man rotation Syracuse currently has, especially since Harris and Rautins aren’t used to playing more than 25 minutes a game. But it is an exciting unit, and right now, I’d rather watch them lose with this unit, then win ugly games with the old configuration (well… maybe I won't go that far).