One game down, and a win in the record books for the Syracuse Orange.
The Orange opened up regular season play with an 83-55 win over the Colgate Raiders. Thanks to dominating play by Tyler Roberson and the dynamic point guard duo of Frank Howard and John Gillon, Syracuse gave fans a taste of what they wanted: excellence.
Frank Howard improved…a lot
The point guard play last year was primarily dominated by Michael Gbinije, but from the limited time we saw of Frank Howard, we learned he had many flaws. His shot was inconsistent, and his capability to run a team was questioned. All that ended tonight.
From the get-go, Howard played with confidence and poise as he led the Orange all night. His capability to see the floor was on display, as he connected time and time again with Roberson running the floor. His shot was effective early and often as he shot four-for-four from the field, finishing with 11 points and nine assists. With guard play like this, the Orange finally have a true point guard to trust in.
Paschal Chukwu is going to have a short leash
We heard from coach Jim Boeheim during the preseason that Chukwu is not fully developed and won’t be this year. The Orange don’t need a fully established Chukwu to succeed, but what they do need is consistent play and limited mistakes, something Boeheim demands.
Tonight Chukwu didn’t play his most complete and fluid game, as he showed defensive mishaps and a lack of rebounding dominance for a 7’2” center. Boeheim doesn’t have time for this kind of play, and showed that he isn’t afraid to pull the big man after one mistake.
Chukwu got his chances to make up for his mistakes, which he did occasionally, but for the Orange to compete with the best, Chukwu needs to be on his best every night.
Size of the zone will be tough to deal with
The roster this year is full of length and athleticism. The average height of the starting lineup is over 6’7”, and the Orange still bolster a bench with a 7’2” center and lengthy forwards. A good zone is defined by its versatility, and with the athletes on this year’s roster, Boeheim will get what he wants more than often: Steals.
The top of the zone is showcased by Howard and Andrew White III, whose length and size for their position gives the Orange an advantage to getting steals and getting out on the fast break. Tonight the Orange outscored the Raiders 23 to zero on the fast break, and with not much change in the future, this defense can make some noise around the country.