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Q&A with Ryan Blackwell: Talkin' Syracuse Hoops, Jimmy B & His Time in Japan

TNIAAM caught up with Ryan Blackwell to discuss the upcoming basketball season and his expectations for this year's team.

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Starting his playing career at the University of Illinois, Ryan Blackwell came to Syracuse as a transfer after his freshman season. At Syracuse, Blackwell would lead the Orange in rebounding in both his sophomore and junior campaigns and played a major role on Syracuse's 1998 and 2000 Sweet 16 teams. Since graduating from Syracuse, Blackwell has both played and coached professionally overseas. We caught up with him to discuss his expectations for this year's Syracuse Orange team. Read the transcript below:

Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician: Have you been to The Melo Center to see workouts this summer?

Ryan Blackwell: I go to Melo a few times a week and I play with the players sometimes.

TNIAAM: What are your expectations for this year's team? What do you think their floor/ceiling is?

RB: They will be extremely talented at the guard/forward spots. The big question is obviously at the center position. How healthy will DaJuan Coleman be!? Chino isn't very experienced and the freshmen aren't proven yet. It all depends on how the new guys adjust but they will be a tournament team in my opinion.

TNIAAM: What do you think the incoming freshman class can provide for this year's team?

RB: The incoming freshmen are very, very talented. They'll provide shooting (Lydon, Richardson, Howard) and athleticism with all of them. I've played with Lydon a few times and he has a lot of upside (NBA potential).

TNIAAM: Do you think this team will be more perimeter oriented, especially with guys like Richardson and Lydon who can offer outside shooting to supplement Cooney?

RB: The bulk of the responsibility will surely be on the perimeter players with the uncertainty around Coleman. They'll have enough to get the job done though.

TNIAAM: Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney have both proven an ability to make big plays late in games, (Gbinije against Virginia Tech, Cooney against UNC and Notre Dame) who do you see taking over late-game situations? Does it come down to match-ups or who's hot that night?

RB: Both Gbinije and Cooney will step up at the end of games. I see Gbinije having the ball in his hands more because he has the ability to make plays for other people a little more than Cooney overall. But it usually comes down to who has it going on a given night.

TNIAAM: How do you think the new CBB rule changes will impact Syracuse?

RB: I think the shot clock changes will hopefully see a rise in scoring and defensively it helps Syracuse because that's five less seconds teams have to score against that stingy zone.

TNIAAM: When transferring from Illinois, what stood out to you about Syracuse?

RB: Syracuse was my second choice and if I hadn't grown up around the University of Illinois team I'd have gone straight to Syracuse. Syracuse has a great tradition and a Hall of Fame coach. It was an easy decision to transfer after Lou Henson retired and his staff wasn't retained.

TNIAAM: How was the experience of living and coaching in Japan?

RB: Japan is by far the best place I've lived besides America. Great culture, great food, very clean, kids are hard working... safest place I've been for sure. 10/10 times if you lose your wallet it will get returned with everything in it...

TNIAAM: What is it about the Syracuse program that keeps guys so tight even after their playing careers have finished?

RB: Boeheim is the reason for us sticking together. He's built the program and is still at the helm. All of his assistants have played for him and the atmosphere is that of a fraternity/family.

TNIAAM: Since the Shockwave fell through, what do you have planned next?

RB: I have some things in the works that I'm not allowed to disclose at this time but coaching is my chosen career path still...

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If you're feeling nostalgic about late 90's Syracuse basketball, look no further than this game-winning shot against St. John's in the Big East semis.

Never change, Mike Tirico.