clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Syracuse basketball: Observations from Orange Tip-Off

It was orange. It was a tip-off. It was Orange Tip-Off.

Syracuse, N.Y. — The Syracuse Orange men’s and women’s basketball teams held its annual Orange Tip-Off event Friday, an intrasquad scrimmage inside the JMA Wireless Dome by both sides, preceded by a three-point shooting and dunk contest. It was the annual first look Syracuse fans were granted for the 2023-24 basketball teams.

Players from both squads were first introduced by class. First, for the three-point shooting contest, two teams were formed consisting of two of the men’s players and two of the women’s players. Representing the women were Dyaisha Fair, Sophie Burrows, Georgia Woolley and Alaina Rice. For the men, Kyle Cuffe, Justin Taylor, Chris Bell and Chance Westry participated.

Competing in the dunk contest were Judah Mintz, Naheem McLeod, Quadir Copeland and freshman William Patterson. McLeod initially had a pair of interesting dunks, with a 360 and a lob off the side of the backboard and finish. But Mintz won in the second round with a windmill.

Then were the scrimmages. First, observations from the women’s side, who scrimmaged against basketball managers.

Dyaisha Fair still runs the show

As if there were any doubt, Dyaisha Fair is still the star of Syracuse women’s basketball. She started things off with a triple and mid-range jumper for five quick points. Happy to defer to teammates through the middle of the scrimmage, she hit another three toward the end of the competition.

Alyssa Latham hit a pair of threes, Dominique Camp had a pair of buckets inside while Lexi McNabb and Kyra Wood got in the scoring column as well. Although she struggled to connect, the freshman from Australia in Burrows displayed a textbook shooting stroke. Look for the her to eventually help Fair and Woolley from outside.

Free TVs

The loudest the sparse crowd at the JMA Wireless came not during the dunk contest or either of the scrimmages, but rather when a fan in pajama pants won a 55-inch flat screen TV by making a layup, free throw, three-pointer and half-court shot within a minute. Who needs dunks and threes when you can see a fan win a free TV?

Now to the men, with the caveat that yes, this was a scrimmage. Reading too much into pickup basketball is foolhardy, but that won’t stop us from trying.

Quickness and depth at guard on display

The talent Syracuse has in its backcourt is obvious. Mintz looked like his old self, while Starling showed off his penchant for getting to the rim and finishing. Mintz had a signature windmill dunk in transition and threw a deft behind the back pass to Taylor for a finish.

Kyle Cuffe, the Kansas transfer, has a quick first step and is explosive in transition. He picked Starling’s pocket on one occasion and finished off a dunk on the other end. And both Westry and Copeland provide depth and security to the guard spot.

Adrian Autry said earlier in the day he plans to play deeper than Syracuse has in the past. Every guard and forward on the roster seem capable of playing a role.

Westry intrigues

Speaking of guard play, Chance Westry was intriguing. Syracuse has been deliberate in getting him up to speed after his knee injury and subsequent surgery a year ago. He just got back to practice at full speed two weeks ago. Westry says he’s just getting his basketball rhythm back and he’ll play wherever the team needs him.

Still, he looked light on his feet and can get by defenders with either speed or tact. He’s adept in and around the lane and has height to get his shot off or see over the defense. He’s a skilled passer in traffic and looked crafty in pick and roll scenarios. Syracuse’s top two guards seem obvious, but once up to speed it’s hard to think Westry won’t be in the mix for a starting or sixth man role.

Copeland’s world

Make no mistake, this was Copeland’s event. The sophomore, who spent media day recording teammates when they were being interviewed by reporters, looked at home in the scrimmage as if it were playground basketball in Philadelphia. He finished as the leading scorer with 11.

Copeland was able to play with his usual flair with underhanded shovel passes in transition and an impressive baseline spin around the 7-foot-4 McLeod for a reverse layup. He blocked shot on a Cuffe jumpshot attempt. He hit a three toward the end of the scrimmage and finished off an emphatic transition lob from his good friend Mintz.

Defense is more or less optional in this kind of event, but it was made for Copeland.

Unofficial point count:

Mintz 6, Starling 4, Westry 4, Cuffe 6, Copeland 11, Bell 4, Taylor 5, Williams 4, Brown 8, Patterson 2, McLeod 0, Hima 0

Peter Carey did not play in the scrimmage.