Syracuse Orange men’s basketball is back in business. The ‘Cuse will take on Indiana PA at 7 p.m. in the JMA Wireless Dome in an exhibition matchup.
This game gives us our first look at some of the biggest narratives, questions, and stories to watch for as the team approaches its regular season debut. The Orange will play one more exhibition game against Southern New Hampshire before kicking off the 2022-2023 season against Lehigh at home on Monday, November 7th.
With tonight’s exhibition game approaching, here’s what some members of the TNIAAM staff are watching for against IUP.
Dom: What’s coach Boeheim’s rotation going to look like?
It’s an exhibition game, so we can only take so much information from one matchup. Because it’s also a game that doesn’t count toward the season record, I’d expect Coach Boeheim to get as many guys out on the court as possible.
But, I am intrigued by the different lineup combinations Syracuse can go to. Unlike last season, this year’s team is more versatile and can do different things with or without the ball in their hands. It was clear that in 2022, the team simply ran out of quality options to go to, relying on huge minute totals from the starters. For the first time in a little bit, the Orange have some quality depth on their roster.
In his opening press conference, Coach Boeheim said that he will be using more players this season compared to last year. Only a handful of members of Syracuse’s roster are returning from the 2021-2022 campaign. I’m looking forward to seeing if JAB sticks to his word, especially once the season officially ramps up against games that start counting toward the Orange’s season record.
Kevin: What’s the offense going to be?
Last season Syracuse spread the floor with multiple shooters. When it was clicking the ball was moving and players were passing to get open looks for others. When it was struggling, the ball was sticking and players were resorting to isolation ball. I know it’s only an exhibition and line-ups will be juggled but I am curious to see how this half-court offense will look. Is Joe getting plugged into the Buddy play sets? Will the Orange run more motion? Will it feature a high pick-and-roll focus with Judah and Jesse? I have no idea what to expect so that’s what is most interesting to me tonight.
Szuba: The Starting Five
We know that Joe Girard and Jesse Edwards are starters, but who else does Boeheim trot out for the first exhibition? Benny Williams figures to start at the four. Chris Bunch would seem the likely candidate to start at the three unless Justin Taylor has surprised. The point guard spot is the most interesting. Does Boeheim go with the talented freshman in Judah Mintz or senior leader Symir Torrence? If you asked me two months ago I wouldn’t go with Torrence but after seeing this team at Orange Tipoff, Mintz would seem to be the likely starter.
Christian: Benny Williams
While the big returners in Joe Girard and Jesse Edwards are important, equally as important is how Benny Williams looks on the court. There was a timidity to his offensive game and his defensive game came in flashes. Has he developed the aggressiveness and consistency that Boeheim needs and wants? If not, balancing the lineup gets a lot harder for the Orange, as there’s no clear option that Boeheim can trust at the power forward position.
Mike: Early signs of chemistry
With seven new faces on the roster (six freshmen plus Duquesne transfer Mounir Hima), this group will have to adjust to each other much more quickly than teams of the past. We should see Boeheim roll out several different combinations to get a feel for what sets have the best communication with one another. Will there be some evidence that Judah can lead the attack from the get-go? What about transitioning into fast breaks, or getting back to defend against them? And of course, how well will these guys fit the Zone mold?
What will you be watching for in tonight’s exhibition opener? Let us know in the comments