Philadelphia basketball is unlike any other brand of basketball in the country, and Dion Waiters is its newest star.
Though he comes off the bench, Waiters is undoubtedly Syracuse’s best player, averaging almost 13 points per game and shooting 48% from the field.
Aside from his physically-imposing, muscular, 6-4 frame, Waiters has one other characteristic that sets him apart from not only his teammates, but most other players in the country: swagger.
In a New York Times profile this week by Pete Thamel, Waiters says his signature bravado, muscle flexing, and passion are a by-product of his upbringing.
“It comes from my mom, my family and my dad,” Waiters told Thamel. “Philly brings that out in you. Philly is a different breed. It helped me with that, period.”
The profile goes on to talk about Waiters’ early life, being raised by a single mother and practicing basketball for hours, rain or shine.
In Syracuse’s Elite Eight matchup with Ohio State on Saturday afternoon, he’ll have to be that powerful force off the bench, against a teach that uses pressure defense to disrupt its opponents.
Led by point guard Scoop Jardine and certainly helped by Waiters, Syracuse works best in transition, which could be helped along if Ohio State comes out cold from the field.
One way Syracuse has won this season is by baiting teams into bad shots on the perimeter of their zone defense, getting run-outs, and finishing in transition.
For the first time this season, the Orange will be an underdog, +2.5. With scorers like Deshaun Thomas and Jared Sullinger, the Buckeyes will be looking to attack Syracuse’s zone and stifle the lethal transition game of the Orange.