Jim Boeheim believes the Syracuse Orange are underrated in two areas. Their veteran presence is strong — despite Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett and other departures. He also believes the freshmen can make an immediate impact.
Shades of both proclamations emerged that night at the Carrier Dome. Jalen Carey led transition pushes without a flurry of turnovers. Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard exploded from three to duel late in to the second half. Quincy Guerrier’s tight, physical slashing on the ball supplied white with the separating points to separate themselves.
We witnessed what this thing we’ve imagined and glimpsed at through grainy video from Italy looks like. After sunset (though not quite midnight), Boeheim hoisted and converted on two deep threes in the final 2:30, sealing a 60-53 victory. Guerrier dropped 15 points. Boeheim tallied 17.
Shooting hype proved legitimate. While Marek Dolezaj, John Bol Ajak and Jalen Carey fumbled balls in the skills challenge, a tense four-way standoff occurred in the three-point content. Girard drilled 7-of-15, before Boeheim shattered his mark with 10. Brycen Goodine drilled three shots from the right corner to win with 12-of-15 makes.
Expected differences emerged from recent teams. Massive spacing spread across the new blue-marked court. Only Bourama Sidibe patrolled the post for the white team. On the orange side, Dolezaj and Jesse Edwards ran delayed pick-and-roll action through the elbow. Gerry McNamara shouted plays from the orange bench, while Elijah Hughes commanded the ball for them as he expects to more this season.
Man-to-man broke out. Sidibe said at media day that players enjoyed it and it allowed for tense battles on the perimeter. Hughes and Boeheim scrapped on the ball, while Goodine and Carey battled through screens to chase each other.
Movement and passing counteracted issues finishing at the rim. Neither squad defended particularly well either.
The team needs more time, but two exhibitions arrive in short order against a D-II school and a Canadian opponent. Virginia then awaits, an opening matchup the quality of which the Orange have never began their year against. A squad slowly working back into shape and integrating youth may not benefit much where the television company will.
Expect to see Matthew Gutierrez (The Athletic), James Szuba (who you may know and love) and myself on camera throughout the season. Syracuse Basketball Standup will air here and on CLNS Media throughout the year, featuring our writers, players and guests — both local and national.