The View From Courtside: Syracuse Tunes Up vs. Bloomsburg

Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

With the start of the 2012-13 regular season less than a week away, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team took to the Carrier Dome court for their second and final exhibition game on Sunday. I had a courtside seat for the proceedings, and here’s what I witnessed.

- For the second straight game the starting lineup consisted of Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Triche, C.J. Fair, DaJuan Coleman, and Rakeem Christmas. Barring injury I think that’s the lineup we’ll see game in and game out over the course of this season.

- This Bloomsburg Huskies squad was much more aggressive, athletic, and unafraid than Pace was on Thursday. I don’t think the final score of 103-60 was indicative of how Bloomsburg seemed to offer a better challenge for the Orange and a better game all around.

- Trevor Cooney is already a favorite among fans and he hasn’t played a minute yet in the regular season. He got the largest ovation of any player when he checked into the game in the first half.

- Bloomsburg guard Dontahe Jordan finished a baseline alley-oop in the first half that elicited some oohs from the crowd. I remember UConn’s Andre Drummond doing the same thing to SU last year. The zone defense has to be able to communicate and cut off backdoor cuts, or else those sorts of plays will be there for the taking.

- Cooney seemed to be rushing his shot in the first half, and missed a couple of early three-point attempts. He was drifting a bit and not elevating straight into the air before releasing the ball. It’s something he seemed to correct in the second half, perhaps as he got more acclimated to live game action after missing Thursday’s exhibition

- It was announced on Twitter during the game that 2013 Orange recruit Tyler Ennis has won the iS8 player of the year award. I believe that’s for a fall AAU-style league that he took part in before the start of his high school season.

- The SU defense really jumpstarted the offense on several occasions, with Triche, MCW, Grant, Fair, and Southerland getting fast break layups or dunks after the zone forced a turnover. It was very reminiscent of last year, when Dion Waiters, Scoop Jardine, and Triche would get steals at the top of the key and convert them into easy points.

- Southerland received more minutes at shooting guard in the first half, and responded with a trio of three pointers. He had some early trouble handling the ball in the open court, but did lead a couple of fast breaks and fed Grant for a pair of pretty layups. He finished 5-5 from beyond the arc on Sunday, and 8-9 from three point territory in the two exhibition games. That’s impressive no matter the level of competition.

- Coleman was BEGGING for the ball in the first half when guarded by 6’6” swingman Wes Lyons. He started getting it early in the second half and did some real damage on the interior.

- Coleman and Christmas appeared a little frustrated at the lack of foul calls in the first half. Both were ‘stripped’ on consecutive possessions in what appeared to be to be dubious non-calls at best. I asked Coleman about it afterward, and he kind of shrugged his shoulders and said that he is used to double (and triple) teams and physical play from high school and it didn’t bother him too much.

- By the way, Bloomsburg has their nickname “Huskies” on the seat of their game shorts. I’m not a fan of that. They’re only one step away from “juicy”.

- I mentioned this after the Pace game, but Keita looks like a MUCH different player already this year. He seems more comfortable with the ball in his hands and has finished around the basket with increased efficiency.

- Triche led SU with 23 points, 18 of them coming before halftime. He also chipped in 7 assists and 5 rebounds. I asked him about his scoring, and he told me that he feels like he can be more aggressive on the offensive end and make plays, which is easier to do when he has teammates who can do the same. He said he worked a lot on him jump shot in the offseason, but he feels he is better going to the basket and utilizes his jumper to keep defenders honest and open up room to put the ball on the floor.

- During the post-game press conference, Jim Boeheim said it was good to have Cooney out on the floor, and that he was unable to do anything other than shoot around for 14 days as he recovered from tonsil surgery. Cooney said in the locker room that it felt good to hit his first threes of the season, and he thought he played pretty well given his long layoff.

- Boeheim praised Carter-Williams, saying he was “smart”, “made good decisions”, and had 8 assists to only 2 turnovers. That’s the kind of ratio you want from your starting point guard.

- The team now looks forward to their “Battle of the Midway” matchup vs. San Diego State on Friday. Boeheim said they hadn’t talked about the game too much yet, but obviously would this week. Southerland joked that he hoped there wasn’t very much wind on the deck of the aircraft carrier considering how well he has been shooting lately. Triche said that the weather wasn’t a concern for him, because growing up in the Syracuse area he is used to playing outdoors in all sorts of conditions.

Jeremy Ryan is a writer/editor for CNYcentral.com in Syracuse. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyRyan44.

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