Boeheim commends Nichol’s defense despite low scoring output

first_img Published on March 2, 2004 at 12:00 pm MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A look at Syracuse guard Demetris Nichols’ recent stat sheets may seem alarming. But Syracuse men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim has a reminder.‘He’s still a freshman,’ Boeheim said.Aside from playing solid defense, that’s pretty much the only positive for Nichols lately. Last night, Nichols was pulled for fellow freshman Terrence Roberts three minutes into SU’s 65-52 win at West Virginia. He didn’t return to the floor until the start of the second half. He again retreated to the bench – this time after seven minutes – and didn’t return. He took just one shot, a 3-pointer, and missed.That’s been Nichols’ story since he scored a career-high 17 points at Providence. In the seven ensuing games, all of which Nichols has started, he has averaged 1.7 points and shot 5-for-26. He hasn’t scored a point in his past three.As his scoring has slumped, Nichols’ minutes have dwindled, too. He played 10 minutes last night, his lowest since playing two against Seton Hall on Jan. 20. After the loss to the Pirates, Nichols played at least 20 minutes in SU’s next seven games, peaking at 36 against Providence. He hasn’t played more than 19 since.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textStill, Boeheim lauded the lanky guard’s defense after SU’s win last night. And though several teammates and coaches have said the key for Nichols is staying aggressive, sometimes not scoring is a positive.‘They’re staying out of the way,’ Boeheim said of SU’s freshman. ‘They’re not trying to do things they can’t do and allowing veteran guys to make plays.’ReD’Or NotFor the second consecutive year, one of Syracuse’s lone problems against WVU was stopping a versatile newcomer.Last year, then-freshman Kevin Pittsnogle rained 3s on Syracuse’s big men. This year, junior center D’Or Fischer had his way with Syracuse inside, while the rest of his teammates gave way to SU.Fischer displayed an array of moves off the dribble and a deft outside shooting touch. He scored 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting.‘He had some good moves, he had a good shooting touch,’ SU forward Hakim Warrick said. ‘The only thing he’s got to improve on is (having his teammates get him the ball a little more).’Fischer also showcased the shot-blocking ability that ranks him first all-time on WVU’s single-season list, stuffing three SU attempts. Fischer’s one season as a Mountaineer also places him seventh on WVU’s career list.Hmmm. Tremendous shot-blocking ability and an arsenal of low-post moves? Sounds a little bit like a Player of the Year candidate that Syracuse welcomes to the Carrier Dome on Sunday afternoon, doesn’t it?‘Yeah, definitely,’ Warrick said. ‘It’s a great warm-up for (Emeka Okafor). We’ve got two good shot-blockers back to back.’Hang timeThe rims at the WVU Coliseum are Warrick’s personal jungle gym.Warrick spends more time hanging on them after finishing dunks than any youth should spend on a local Playscape. Against West Virginia’s 1-3-1 zone, Warrick paces the baseline waiting for alley-oops. Guard Gerry McNamara delivered three during yesterday’s win.‘I’m sure he has fun,’ McNamara said. ‘He has the best end of things. It’s so easy to throw him the ball. You can throw it anywhere, and he’s going to catch it. I threw him a couple of low ones tonight. If I got them up higher, you really would have seen something.’West Virginia certainly saw too much of Warrick. The athletic forward kicked off the game by converting an alley-oop. With the score at 58-52, Warrick punctuated the victory with a pair of alley-oops and a breakaway dunk off a full-court pass by guard Josh Pace.‘Gerry’s great at finding that gap in the zone and putting that lob pass up there,’ Boeheim said. ‘And Hak’s great at finishing them off.’This and thatSyracuse reached the 20-win plateau last night, the 26th time in 28 seasons that Jim Boeheim has won 20-plus games. WVU head coach John Beilein’s take on Boeheim? ‘A lot of guys would say Coach K’s the best or Bobby Knight’s the best,’ he said. ‘I think Jim Boeheim’s the best. Most people say he’s top 10. I say he’s the best.’ … West Virginia has now lost four straight games. … Last night was senior day for West Virginia, which paid to tribute to a team manager and forward Jonathan Curran. Curran celebrated by knocking down a buzzer-beating, running fadeway at halftime that cut SU’s lead to one. … Warrick showed off his long-range arsenal last night – very long range. After a whistle inside with 13 minutes left, the ball bounded to Warrick, who snared the ball about seven feet inside half court and let loose a perfect swish. … Ladies and gentlemen, the wait is finally over: WVU junior Derek Fincham was named the Mountaineer for the 2004-2005 season last night, which means he’ll have the honor of wearing buckskins and shooting off a Civil War-style musket at all WVU home games. Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img