The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team will suit up for one more exhibition game tonight at 7:00 at the JMA Wireless Dome. The game will be broadcast online on ACC Network Extra.
The Orange will face off against Southern New Hampshire, a Division II team who finished 13-11 last season.
Syracuse is coming off an 86-68 exhibition win against Indiana University (Pennsylvania). The team trailed by as much as seven points before rallying back in dominant fashion in the second half.
Entering tonight’s matchup, this will be the last opportunity for the Orange to kick things into gear before the team opens its season against Lehigh at home on Monday.
With another chance to get a sneak peek of the team, here is what some of us on the TNIAAM staff are watching for against SNH.
Dom: Can Benny Williams give the Orange some consistency at forward?
After a disappointing 2021-2022 campaign, Williams looked transformed on the court against IUP. The stats alone were impressive enough: 15 points, 12 rebounds (5 offensive), a steal, and a made three. By the end of it, Williams finished first on the team in rebounds, tied for second in minutes, and third in scoring.
In general, he looked much more confident in the paint, successfully crashed the glass on both ends of the court, and excelled finishing around the rim. The athleticism was already off the charts, but if his confidence and basketball IQ improves, Williams could carve out a sizeable role in coach Boeheim’s rotation. Now the question is whether this is a case of a one-game anomaly or a trend to watch for early on in the season.
Kevin: Who plays the 3?
Last week the Orange played their best stretch of basketball with Quadir Copeland at small forward. He didn’t look out of place in the back of the 2-3 zone and his play-making allows both Joe Girard and Judah Mintz to look for their own offense. I am not sure if that line-up can hang with bigger teams, but let’s be honest most college teams are basically three guards anyway. If Chris Bell and Justin Taylor don’t impress tonight, will Copeland get the starting nod next week?
Szuba: Minutes dispersion
During the first exhibition, Jim Boeheim elected to play all 12 scholarship players, perhaps at the expense of cohesiveness. Of course, that’s what exhibitions are for, but Syracuse looked lethargic without any real chemistry. Whether or not that was due to it being the first exhibition or limited rhythm due to substitutions (or both) could be debated, but I’m curious if all players get some run in this one or if Syracuse tries to protect the lead early by sticking with the starters (or Copeland?) in the early going.
Mike: Man-Up Redux?
For what seems like the first time in the Jim Boeheim era, the Orange actually started off in man-to-man defense last week. And yes, we checked, and the Dome roof isn’t falling. One (practice) game is far too small a sample size to rate its effectiveness, but if we see it appear again tonight, then we can start to gauge what personnel is having the most success in it. For all the gripes many people, myself included, gave JAB for not being able to adjust throughout last season, I’d appreciate it if he keeps trying something different early on.
What will you be watching for in tonight’s game?