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Even at 15-0, No. 1 Syracuse says best is yet to come

Jan 2, 2012, 4:09 AM EST

spt-120101-fabmelo Getty Images

Here’s a scary thought: Kris Joseph says the No. 1 Orange haven’t “scratched the surface of our potential.”

How’s that possible for a team that’s 15-0 and who’s average win margin is more than 20 points a game? The latest victory – an 87-68 win over DePaul – was rarely close. The Orange used two big runs in the first half to open up a sizable lead and thrived when the Blue Demons tried pressing. They hit plenty of shots (58 percent), mostly off layups.

Still, Joseph has specific ideas for what Syracuse can do.

“We can sharpen offense in the half court. Defensively, we can be a lot better,” he told Marlen Garcia. “We can cut back on turnovers”

Both might be a stretch given the Orange’s résumé. They’re among the nation’s top teams in turnover percentage on offense and defense, and thanks to the intimidating frontline of Fab Melo (he’s been on a tear), James Southerland and Rakeem Christmas, teams rarely get off a shot, let alone a good one. ‘Cuse leads the nation in block % and even forces foes into turning the ball over every four possessions.

That’s just silly, and befitting of the nation’s top team.

But it seems Joseph’s been listening to coach Jim Boeheim. Thus far, everything’s been great. But now that Big East play’s begun, the pushover games are mostly gone. (Mostly.)

“We’ve got a lot of difficult games ahead, particularly at the end of the year and those are the teams you have to beat,” Boeheim said. “We haven’t proven anything yet. We’ve beaten people we probably should have beaten. That’s good. … But the tough part of our schedule is coming up.”

Well, they still have a little time. A trip to Providence won’t be tough until next year at the earliest, while they benefit by getting Marquette at home. ‘Nova, Providence again, then Pitt before going to Notre Dame and Cincinnati. All of ‘em are games Syracuse should win, but they are a little tougher than what the Orange have been playing.

It all points to what should be the best start of Boehem’s Syracuse tenure. Beating Pitt would be a 20-0 start, better than the 1999-2000 squad.

But I’m sure what they’re really shooting for is a better finish than the 2002-03 squad. You know, the one that ran off six straight wins to close the season?

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  1. mdn7779 - Jan 2, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    I’ve learned the bigger the chip on the shoulder, the harder the fall is!

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