After beginning his career at Penn State and making a quick pit stop at South Florida, Geno Thorpe is playing on the biggest stage of his collegiate career at Syracuse.
The 6-foot-3 combo-guard came off the bench for the Orange in Friday’s season-opening 32-point victory over Cornell in the Carrier Dome.
Thorpe, who averaged 15.1 points per game last year for the Bulls, scored 12 points in 19 minutes. He went 4-of-13 from the floor, 0-of-2 from 3-point range and hit all four free throws.
Thorpe committed to Jim Boeheim’s program a few months ago knowing the Hall of Famer needed guard depth. At the time, and true to this day, SU only had two point guards on the roster — Frank Howard and Howard Washington. Thorpe bumps that to three, which is a comfortable number heading into a long and grueling season.
Frank has been inconsistent through his first three years with the SU basketball program, and Washington, being a freshman, will need time to figure things out at this level. Thorpe was the ideal fit, and knew when he committed that he could be the piece that pushes Syracuse back to the NCAA Tournament.
Thorpe showed on Friday that he’s not afraid to shoot, he’s not afraid to be himself and he can get his teammates involved. He’s a scorer, there’s no question about that, but he can also facilitate on offense and make everyone around him better.
Thorpe will be asked to score a lot this season. SU has its No. 1 option in Tyus Battle, but the verdict is still out on who can become the team’s second scorer. Thorpe is a candidate, among freshman Oshae Brissett, who finished Friday’s opener with 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting.
In practice, Thorpe looks to pass first, Boeheim said. He’s a natural scorer and can be a high-volume shooter, but he understands his role can be different on a nightly basis and he’s mature enough to handle that responsibility. He's willing to do whatever he's asked to help the team win, which is the sign of a leader.
As for his ankle, Thorpe was not limited on Friday and looked to be heading in the right direction. He missed SU’s first exhibition game last week with an ankle sprain before returning on Monday against Southern Connecticut State.
The grad transfer also added three steals and a pair of assists.
Frank Howard, who started at point guard, finished with nine points, four assists and one turnover. Howard Washington finished with two assists, but was held scoreless.
Thorpe and the Orange return to the floor on Tuesday night against Iona in the Carrier Dome. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3.