Another Syracuse Orange basketball season is upon us, and the unofficial start of the season is the annual media day and Orange Madness double header.
We'll get to the Madness later, but for now let's discuss the news and notes that came out of men's basketball media day 2013 at the Carmelo Anthony Center.
Coach Jim Boeheim started off the afternoon with a news conference, where he gave his thoughts on the upcoming season, SU's move to the ACC, and some of his individual players. Here are some notes from the news conference;
- On the ACC: Boeheim said the move from the Big East to the ACC was "going from a really, really tough league to a really, really tough league." He says the team will have to learn to adjust to playing new styles, but they should be able to adapt to any situation.
- Boeheim says Michael Gbinije can play both backcourt positions, and perhaps even a little small forward this year. He says Gbinije spends most of his time at point guard, and has had "really good practices". Gbinjie told me separately that he likes to be labeled a "combo guard", but says it doesn't matter what position he plays as long as he's on the court.
- Boeheim says Trevor Cooney has been much more consistent this fall, and he sees a difference everyday in practice. He says Cooney is a hard worker, and thinks he's "really ready" and "confident" to make a major contribution this season. Cooney told me that he feels like he is in better shape this year, and played in a pro-am league in Philadelphia (drink) this summer to work on his game. Much like Gbinije, Cooney doesn't see himself as a point guard, preferring to play the two, but he has worked hard on his point guard skills and will be ready to play there should Tyler Ennis need a break.
- Boeheim says as a team, everyone worked hard this offseason to improve. He says he can see the results in the time that the players put in, and feels like the team will be better for it this season.
- Boeheim says he plans to play two big men together some of the time, and in certain situations. Based on his comment to Andy Katz earlier this week about Jerami Grant coming off of the bench, that leads me to believe that he plans to start Rakeem Christmas and Dajuan Coleman together. Coleman told me that he has spent most of his time working out at the center position, and expects that Christmas will be the power forward when they play together. He says they have been working on some high-low situations over the summer, and they feel that they will compliment each other more then getting in each others' way.
- When asked about freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, Boeheim says he's "steady" and "knows how to play". He says Ennis can be explosive and make plays for both himself and his teammates, and he makes sound decisions in the half court offense. A reporter asked Boeheim to compare Ennis to Michael Carter-Williams, and Boeheim said MCW was the "best defensive guard we've ever had" and was underrated as a defender, so Ennis has a way to go to match on that end.
- On B.J. Johnson, Boeheim said he has had really good practices (I'm sensing a theme), and he's very long and athletic. He also added that Johnson is one of the best shooters on the team, which could mean an opportunity for minutes if an opponent packs its defense into the paint and dares SU to beat them from the perimeter.
- Boeheim said Grant was very frustrated by his illness this summer, and again by his injury at the start of fall practice. He said Grant didn't practice until about a week ago, but has been a much-improved player and sill has room to get even better.
- To wrap up the presser Boeheim was asked who he thought would win the dunk contest at Orange Madness. He joked that he doesn't know much about dunking, and only one guy (Dave Bing) could dunk when he was a player. He said with a smile that Bing would win if he was in college today.