The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball squad begins regular season play on Monday. Before SU begins the recovery effort from its first losing season since 1969, we examine what the ‘Cuse showed us in the preseason:
Mike: Judah looks very raw but will be thrust into a major role out of necessity. Chris Bell didn’t shoot great from distance and of the rookies, I think his job is the least secure right now. Peter Carey needs some time to adjust to the college game so he could start pretty far down the depth chart. There were some flashes from all six rookies - but just flashes. We’ll see how they’re all settling in after a few weeks.
Kevin: The incoming class is athletic with potential, but as a group they struggled with consistency over the two games. Will be interesting to see who earns Jim Boeheim’s trust over the first few games.
Dom: Collectively, the rookies bring athleticism and depth the Orange really lacked last season. But I’m concerned with the inability to put up points efficiently. In Syracuse’s first two exhibition games, the six incoming freshmen were 6/22 (27%) from three. The floor needs to be opened up more for the Orange to succeed on offense.
Christian: Along the same lines as Kevin, this is an inconsistent group at best. The bad thing is that, much like Benny Williams last year, every newcomer needs court time. The good thing is that at least two at a time will get that court time. Whoever shows consistent play the fastest will earn more chances to improve.
Szuba: The freshmen are, well, freshmen! There’s so much potential and a lot to like with the young guns, but there’s no substitute for experience. They’ll need time to get comfortable and adjust but I really like what they can give. It’s a deep class and each player brings a different skillset to the table. Perhaps it would behoove Syracuse fans to be patient.
Best from the Rest:
Mike: Mounir Hima seems to have solidified himself as the backup center. He’s physical and should be able to adequately cover for Jesse Edwards during his <10 minutes of rest.
Kevin: Symir Torrence looks more confident shooting the ball which bodes well for him earning regular minutes.
Dom: Jesse Edwards picked up right where he left off last season, especially with his finishing around the rim. Edwards averaged 14.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the team’s exhibition matchups.
Christian: Benny Williams is being aggressive when he gets the ball. However, unless Torrence is in the game, he’s rarely touching the ball on offense. His trademark defensive aggressiveness is still showing up also, which is fine as long as he doesn’t over-rotate. As long as he stops settling for midrange looks Williams should show massive improvement.
Szuba: How about Quadir Copeland? He seemed like the odd man out at point guard coming in with Mintz and Torrence ahead of him, but he might be best at small forward where he can attack off the dribble and create for others in the half-court. It’s going to be hard to keep him on the bench.
Mike: The half-court offense just was not working for large stretches of time. The scoring prowess is there, each person just needs to realize that they’re not the only option and can dish it out when other opportunities are there.
Kevin: Syracuse could not guard either team when they played man-to-man so can they learn the zone rotations and be able to create offense from their defense?
Dom: The Orange racked up 30 turnovers in just two games. Against superior competition (especially in the ACC), it’ll be tough for Syracuse to beat anyone averaging 15 turnovers a night. There’s still some work that needs to be done with cutting back on giving up the ball and setting up more efficient shots.
Christian: You shouldn’t have double-digit turnovers in any Division II program. Chalk it up to freshmen inconsistency, but the Orange are once again shaping up to be an offensive-oriented team. That means you gotta keep the ball to score, and both D-II programs Syracuse faced in the preseason made games interesting because of turnovers.
Szuba: Hard to think the defense will be worse than last year. There’s still room for improvement in that category, but with so much scoring from last year’s team having moved on, where are the points going to come from? Girard and Edwards should carry the load and Mintz should be able to score from the point, but someone is going to need to give out buckets from the forward position. Who will it be?
Our Picks for the Starting Five:
Mike: Judah Mintz, Joe Girard, Chris Bell, Benny Williams, and Jesse Edwards. I think both Justin Taylor and Quadir Copeland will get a large chunk of meaningful minutes, but we didn’t see nearly enough to roll out three starting freshmen yet.
Kevin: Judah Mintz, Joe Girard, Chris Bell, Benny Williams, and Jesse Edwards.
Dom: Judah Mintz, Joe Girard, Chris Bell, Benny Williams, and Jesse Edwards. But if either Williams or Bell struggles out of the gate, expect a lineup change from Coach Boeheim.
Christian: Right now, Judah Mintz, Joe Girard, Chris Bell, Benny Williams, and Jesse Edwards. But if Bell doesn’t start performing offensively, I think Justin Taylor slots in for him at the three. The way the Orange are built, I think Boeheim is willing to take a defensive hit for an offensive gain.
Szuba: Uninspired and unoriginal response, but: Judah Mintz, Joe Girard, Chris Bell, Benny Williams, and Jesse Edwards.
Now it’s your turn to respond. Are the new kids in town #humbleandhungry enough to make an immediate impact? Or will this year’s team have us tweeting out the Confused_Boeheim_face.gif in frustration?