The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is uncharacteristically-crowded this season. Normally, a freshman like Taurean Thompson would shoot right into the starting line-up if for no other reason than because SU only had one-to-two big-men to choose from anyway.
This season, however, the Orange have fifth-year senior Dajuan Coleman, transfer Paschal Chukwu, senior Tyler Roberson, and sometimes-center Tyler Lydon to go with the freshman phenom. That kind of depth could put a damper on a guy’s expected minutes, but Thompson knew that coming in and told Donna Ditota that he’s unfazed by the friendly competition.
"I came here with the mindset that I was going to play, no matter how many forwards and centers we had," Thompson said during a Thursday conversation at the Melo Center. "I just wanted to play hard every day and compete. I knew as soon as I did that, there would be no problem. I would get on the floor and see playing time."
"Pass it, drive it, shoot it. I feel like I can make a lot of plays in the middle," he said. "It all depends on what the defense gives me. I don't hesitate at all, I just do what the defense gives me."
To some that kind of confidence might come off as cockiness but sometimes that’s what you want out of your best players. The belief that they’re the best option available and a willingness to back it up.
Thompson scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting in 15 minutes of action against IUP in the exhibition opener. He also grabbed five rebounds and blocked one shot. Taurean should expect to get plenty more opportunities to show off his talents, at least based on what Jim Boeheim said about the freshman earlier this week:
"I think Taurean is more advanced than most freshman forwards. He's probably our best mid-post player, making plays out of the post. I think he's got a chance to help us in there and he rebounds the ball pretty well."
Thompson told Donna that between pre-practice workouts, practice, and post-practice weightlifting, he’s exhausted most days. But that hard work is bound to pay off, this season or the next.