His statistics are not exceptional -- 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots per game. But 6-foot-11, 240-pound Roosevelt Bouie is the foundation of a Syracuse basketball team one opposing coach called the most physically talented in the East.
Jim Boeheim, the Syracuse coach whose team plays Georgestown for an automatic NCAA tournament berth Saturday, was reviewing this 25-2 seasson yesterday. He talked of guard play, which the coach figured would be the team's weakness because of silze and lack of experience.
"They've come through well. In fact, they've done an excellent job," he said of the three guards he rotates. "Of couirse, it helps having the big guy up front that everybody's looking at."
That is the supreme compliment for a player: his presence makes his teammates better players. Bouie is the type who can dominate a game defensively so the guards can gamble and be enough of an offensive threat so they have room to shoot jump shots.
The knock on Bouie in his first two seasons was inconsistency.
"He is very consistent this year," Boeheim said as ther Orangemen prepared to bring their 19-game winning streak and Nos. 5 and 6 national rankings to Cole Fileld House for Saturday's 2 p.m. regionally televised game.
The three acknowledged top teams in the East are Syracuse, Georgetown and Temple. Gary Williams, the American University coach, has played all three this seasion.
;Georgetown and Temple," he said, "are the two most intelligent teams we've played all year. Syracuse has the most physically talented team we've played."
The forwards are 6-8 Dale Shackleford and 6-6 Louis Orr, both seniors. Shackleford has been a fouir-year starter. He arguably ranks with Georgetown's Craig Shelton, Drhode Island's Sly Williams and La Salle's Michael Brooks as the best power forwards in the East.
Of his forwards, Boeheim said, "They have been consistent this year and throughout their careers here. They're not superstars, but just real consistent players. They get you 14-15 points a game, seven-eight rebounds and play good defense."
Boeheim rotates the three guards -- starting Eddle Moss, the penetrating playmaker, and Mkary Headd. Hal Cohen, a junior, plays 20 minutes or so per game.
How much depth the Orangemen possess is a matter of debate, but it is agreed, by Boeheim and coaches who have played Syracuse and coaches who have played Syracuse and Georgetown this season, that the teams are similar in quickness, aggressiveness and defense.
Therefore, a closely called game between these two physical teams could result in a war of attrition in which both teams seem assured of NCAA tournament berths, win or lose.
Willians, the AU coach, says Syracuse can go 10 players deep. Jimmy Satalin, the St. Bonaventulre coach, said Syracuse's depth is overrated. In the middle is Boeheim.
"We've got the third guard and Dan Schayes (sophomore son of former allpro Dolph Schayes and Bouie's back-up) and Ricky Harman (a freshman swingman who generally has played forward)," said Boeheim.
"Against the Bonnies Wendnesday night, we got 22 points out of our bench and they got four. Our bench is good, I think," he added. "We've got eight players and I don't know how many teams can say that."
Schayes is Syracuse's best passer inside. He scored 23 points against Manhattan.
"If Bouie's going real well, we don't jerk him out," Boeheim said. "Schayes can play. It's just that he hasn't had to play that much."
That Syracuse is 25-2 is "a little bit better than we might have hoped for," according to the third-year coach. "It's the best road team we've had at Syracuse. You know we don't lose a lot at home (they've won 45 straight there)."
Playing well on the road is a sign of a team with poise. The Orangemen have lost only one close game when they shot only 38 percent and fell at lllinois, 64-61.
"We've got experienced players and they've played well," he concluded.