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Eight takeaways from Syracuse basketball’s 69-59 win over All Stars Varese in Italy

What do you mean Syracuse played man-to-man defense?

Photo via FloHoops

Game one of the Syracuse Orange basketball team’s Italian tour is already complete. On Monday, the Syracuse guys took down All Stars Varese by a final score of 69-59.

Elijah Hughes led the way for SU and all 10 available scholarship players got burn in this one. John Bol Ajak did not make the trip as he had issues with his visa and Marek Dolezaj sat with a finger injury.

While we shouldn’t put too much stock into these types of games, there were a few things that stood out which we highlighted below. Consider that the Syracuse team has only had eight practices prior to the trip, some of the guys are likely jet-lagged and others are playing with teammates for the first time against guys they have limited scouted reports on.

Anyhow, see takeaways below.

For starters

Jim Boehiem elected to go with a starting lineup of Jalen Carey, Buddy Boeheim, Elijah Hughes, Quincy Guerrier and Bourama Sidibe. That could very well be the starting lineup for the Orange this season. Marek Dolezaj could also slide in there for either Sidibe or Guerrier, but I think that will eventually be the starting five.

The door is open for Elijah

Jon Rothstein really needs to bring this tweet back from the grave because it’s all too relevant here. The door is most certainly open for Hughes and this is without a doubt his team. He finished the game with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.

While he might have missed some outside shots he’d ordinarily make, Hughes looked every bit the leader he’ll need to be in 2019-20 for Syracuse. He looked good off the bounce too, making secondary reads which included tough finishes at the rim and one sequence where the defense collapsed and he kicked to a wide open Buddy Boeheim.

We all know Hughes can shoot it, but him being able to take the ball off the dribble and make sound decisions when the help comes is a good sign.

Spongebob Kyries

You knew someone was going to do it. Guerrier came out rocking the new Kyrie 5 Spongebobs. Tyus Battle has exclusively worn Kyries ever since an ankle injury in high school. With him out of the fold at Syracuse, someone has to replace him and on Monday that someone was Guerrier. We’ll wait for noted Spongebob fanatic Buddy Boehiem to rock out with the Patricks (Yes, these are a real thing).

Joe Girard was also rocking Kyries. He went with the Kyrie 4 Lucky Charms.

Syracuse goes 2-3 zone with MANTOMAN (Bill Raftery voice)

Syracuse played 2-3 zone for the entire first half. At the start of the third quarter, Boehiem elected to go man-to-man on the defensive end. With the second group of guys in there, Syracuse stayed in man for a majority of the quarter and switched back to zone in the fourth.

Guess Boehiem wasn’t kidding about playing some man in these games.

Backcourt Rotation

All five scholarships guards played, but Carey and Boehiem started and Brycen Goodine paired up with Joe Girard in the second unit. Howard Washington was fifth in the guard rotation, but we’ll see how the rest of the trip pans out before speculating on who plays in the backcourt this season and who doesn’t.

JG3 doesn’t need your help

At one sequence in the game, Joe Girard drove and fell to the ground after missing a shot. His opponent offered a hand to help him up, but Girard rejected it, stared at him and trotted back down the court to play some defense.

This dude is a straight competitor and I can’t wait to watch him do his thing over these next few years at Syracuse. Sign me up for the gritty, chip-on-your-shoulder attitude with a little side of disrespect.

Solid Sidibe

Bourama looked pretty solid yesterday, and not just because he posted 8 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. It was the most mobile he’s looked in a while. Last year he admitted to not being at full strength following his freshman year tendinitis.

It was only one game, but if Bourama is as mobile as he was on Monday we’re looking at a different type of Syracuse team at center.

What Boehiem wants...

The Orange refuse to play with those silly-looking international balls that are more slippery than a Syracuse sidewalk in January.

The Syracuse guys will play on Wednesday against Oxygen Bassano at 1:00 p.m. ET. FloHoops is picking up streaming coverage for all games in Italy.

See box score and highlights from yesterday’s game below.

For Syracuse basketball stories and updates, follow James on twitter @JamesSzuba