The Carrier Dome was host tonight to Orange Madness, the first official practice of the 2014-15 season for the Syracuse Orange men's and women's basketball teams. Time to recap everything that went down...
The night began with the women's team being introduced. The Orange players ran through the tunnel and onto to the court to some, uh, interesting song choices, but were one-upped by their coach. Quinn Hillsman came out in a Cadillac convertible.
After the ladies scrimmaged, the men's team was introduced in the same fashion. Perhaps not surprisingly, Trevor Cooney, Kaleb Joseph, and Chris McCullough received the loudest receptions from the Orange faithful.
Oh, and you thought a convertible was cool? Head coach Jim Boeheim rode through the tunnel in an Army Humvee. While wearing a helmet. That's our coach!
Then, for some reason, Trevor Cooney and Bri Butler of the women's team faced off in a three-point contest, which Cooney won. Did we find out the purpose of this yet? Seriously, they both just kept shooting from the same spot -- the top of the key -- on opposite ends of the court, until one made 15 shots. OK, I'm done.
The SU "Legends" scrimmage was next, and it saw a lot of early rust. I mean, A LOT of early rust. I'm talking air balls on air balls on air balls. But the former Orange players eventually got into their grooves. John Wallace was pretty clearly the best player on the floor, save for maybe Eric Devendorf. Wallace scored 10 points, including two three-pointers and one of the game's only two dunks.
The last and surely most-anticipated scrimmage of the night was, of course, the men's team scrimmage. I know I shouldn't have takeaways from an intrasquad scrimmage, but here are my takeaways:
- Michael Gbinije, whom Boeheim said early today will see increased minutes this season, was one of the game's Co-MVP's (I'll get to the other in a moment). He had, by my count, 10 points and an assist. Sign of things to come? I hope so.
- Remember, way back in May, when Jim Boeheim said Rakeem Christmas would be the ACC's most improved player in 2014-15? I think he might have been on to something. Christmas led all scorers with (again, by my count) 14 points. He also dominated on the glass. At one point, he made a layup, blocked a shot at the other end, and then took the ball coast-to-coast for a slam. He was your other Co-MVP.
- Hadn't I known better, I would have thought Kaleb Joseph were playing in a Final Four game. He had a couple of steals, he was constantly pushing the tempo, and he added a few buckets of his own. I like the high motor. I like it a lot.
- B.J. Johnson will be C.J. Fair this season. Fine, maybe I only think so because they're both lefties, they both wear headbands, they have similar shooting forms, and they nearly have the same first name. But Johnson played pretty well, and even made a nice looking three-pointer from the corner. Stay tuned.
The last basketball event of the night was the dunk contest, between McCullough, Johnson, and Gbinije. I won't bore you, so here's what you need to know: McCullough and Johnson advanced to the championship round, and Johnson then won the contest, thanks largely to a reverse spin dunk.
After a pie-eating contest that few stuck around for, the night ended with selfie stations on the turf. Yes, fans had the opportunity to take selfies with the players and even the coaches. The line for a selfie with Boeheim was really, really long.
One more thing: Somehow, it felt like fewer people were in the Dome tonight than were in attendance on Tuesday for the New York Knicks-Philadelphia 76ers exhibition, which our own Jeremy Ryan said had the smallest crowd of any Carrier Dome basketball game since the 1997 NIT. I get it. Orange Madness is just a glorified practice. But, c'mon people! Did you see how many fans were at Kentucky Madness tonight? Let's try to be like them next year.
The Orange next hit the Carrier Dome court on Sunday, November 2 -- just over two weeks from now -- when they face the Carleton University Ravens, one of the premiere college basketball teams in Canada.