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Syracuse men’s basketball players hope familiarity leads to on-court chemistry

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Syracuse welcomes new yet familiar faces to the basketball program.

On the surface, it might seem like there are plenty of new faces inside the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball program. With three incoming transfers and one freshman that will all play important roles, that figures to be true.

Perhaps that’s the new normal in college basketball with the one-time transfer rule that allows athletes to play right away at their new destination. Gone are the days where most players stay all four years. So, With all these new faces at Syracuse, how will Jim Boeheim blend his returning players with the newcomers?

Maybe it will take some time for chemistry to develop with transfers Cole Swider, Symir Torrence and Jimmy Boeheim with returning players like Joe Girard and Buddy Boeheim.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Syracuse at San Diego State Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

As it turns out, the incoming transfers might be a little more familiar with each other. There’s the obvious brotherhood between Jimmy and Buddy Boeheim. But the two brothers, Symir Torrence and Joe Girard all share an Upstate New York connection. The four aforementioned players all came up through the Albany City Rocks AAU program. Girard and Torrence played together in the same class.

While it still might take time for this group to gel on the court, the familiarity can’t hurt.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’ve been around each other for a long time,” Torrence said. “Going against each other from Syracuse high school leagues to playing on the same AAU team and now the same college team. It’s a blessing.”

“It’s a really close group all around,” Jimmy Boeheim added. “I wouldn’t say it’s that much different.”

Syracuse is hoping the familiarity between players gives them a jumpstart on the usual process it takes for players to adjust to one another on the court. It takes time to learn where certain teammates like to receive passes, to know where they’ll rotate on the floor or just to develop all-around team chemistry.

Girard thinks having those relationships already baked-in should help the transition.

“It makes it real easy,” Girard said. “I think just in general the familiarity between the four of us — even Cole [Swider], honestly. We played Cole probably six or seven times in AAU. We already knew everyone’s game.”

As for Torrence, he and Buddy share a long friendship. Torrence grew up playing basketball with the Boeheims. He played high school basketball at Syracuse Academy of Science before transferring to Vermont Academy. When Torrence was at SAS and Buddy was at Jamesville-DeWitt, they squared off against each other twice and split the series 1-1.

“I’ve known Sy ever since he was 10 years old. He started coming to the academy with G-Mac and Coach Hop here. Me and him have been close ever since then. We never thought we’d end up playing together. We were just good friends. We liked each other. Growing up competing against each other in high school, it’s pretty special to share the court with him and Joe,” Buddy said.

Before Torrence committed to Syracuse in the spring, he called the Boeheim family to let them know. Juli Boeheim was gleeful upon receiving the news, and she joked with Torrence that “he better have” picked Syracuse. Jim, Jimmy and Buddy all erupted with laughter in the background.

“They’ll always be family to me,” Torrence said. “Teammates wouldn’t make us any closer.”

For Syracuse basketball stories and updates, follow @NunesMagician and @JamesSzuba