Gillon embracing pressure of Syracuse

Mack Beaulieu

Since transferring away from the Colorado State basketball program last spring, John Gillon has found home at Syracuse. In his one year being a member of the Orange, Gillon has gotten just what he desired and a little bit more than he expected.

Why go to Syracuse?

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“I just wanted to play in the highest basketball conference in college,” Gillon said. “(Syracuse) is a lot more intense about basketball than I expected.”

Syracuse (16-11, 8-6 ACC) is in the midst of one of an up-and-down season. After struggling in non-conference play, the Orange have played well in conference, and Gillon is probably the biggest reason why. Gillon is hitting all the big shots and leading comebacks almost every game for the Orange.

Monday night was no different, as Gillon did everything he could to keep Syracuse in the game against No. 8 Louisville. At the end of regulation, the former Ram hit two threes to tie the game, but the Orange lost a heartbreaker in overtime.

Gillon has stepped up in the leadership role that Syracuse’s coach, Jim Boeheim, has provided. He struggled adjusting to his new role early, but Gillon said that after being sat down by Boeheim and being told he did not have to worry about coming out of games, the elevation in play came natural.

“Just the familiarity and the confidence that I’m going to stay in the game,” Gillon said after referencing Boeheim sitting him down.

Averaging 19 points and just under seven assists over the last six games, including a 43 point explosion in a win over North Carolina State, Gillon has found a niche where he can excel.

Since leaving Colorado State Gillon has enjoyed his time in the limelight of Syracuse, but he does miss Fort Collins and Colorado State.

“I had a great experience in Colorado,” Gillon said. “But I had to make the best move for me.”

He misses his teammates, coaches and friends, and says he keeps in touch with many of them.

Gillon may be missing some of the camaraderie, but becoming the starting point guard at one of the biggest programs in the country has its perks. Gillon said his favorite part about Syracuse is how much the fans embrace the team, in good times and bad. The people of Syracuse live and die by basketball, Gillon understands that.

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The same fans who cheer him on are going to start to get restless as Syracuse has lost back-to-back games after having just won five straight. The Orange have only four games left in the regular season in addition to the ACC tournament to try and stamp their ticket for March Madness, with another game against Louisville and Duke sandwiched between two games against Georgia Tech.

Syracuse just recently celebrated Boeheim reaching his 1000th win, something that Gillon said meant a lot to him, being a part of all the history and tradition.

While all the success he has seen was unprecedented at Colorado State, Gillon’s new role at Syracuse holds more pressure than he ever had at Colorado State. If his recent play is any indicator of how he will handle that pressure, it looks like Gillon is not going to fret. It is safe to say that the former Ram has two fan bases pulling for him.

Collegian guest sports reporter Mack beaulieu can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com