The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball preseason came to an end this evening with an 86-61 win over the St. Rose Golden Knights. It completes the doubleheader sweep over St. Rose, as the women’s squad was victorious Tuesday night in their sole exhibition.
Judah Mintz returned to the point guard spot after missing the first exhibition game versus Daemen. After that precautionary day off, Mintz had one of the best individual performances of the night, collecting 20 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. His backcourt partner J.J. Starling finished with 14 points but only one assist.
That said, the guys who stood out most to me were Chris Bell and Justin Taylor. After competing with one another for time at the 3 last year, Bell found himself at the 4 for most of this game, and he took advantage on both ends of the court, finishing with 19 points, five rebounds, three steals, and two blocks.
Taylor had success from distance in the first exhibition, and he went 2/4 from deep tonight. The much more impressive thing to look at, however, are his 12(!) boards, 11 of which came in the back end. If one or even both of the pair can evolve from three-point specialists to solid contributors inside the paint as well, it’ll be a much more enjoyable team to watch.
Center William Patterson also made his debut, collecting a pair of rebounds and blocks in relief of Naheem McLeod. When neither of the big men were on the floor, Coach Autry ran with an extra guard - something that he later hinted at doing frequently this season.
The Orange again mainly played man-to-man defense but also had a short stretch or two of zone mixed in. They dominated the turnover battle, allowing only eight points off them while scoring 29 of their own. The only thing that concerns me is SU’s 4/19 mark from the arc. Since everything else looked fine, it’s not a killer... yet.
Benny Williams did not participate as a result of an internal suspension for violating team rules. After the game, Autry would not elaborate further as to what rule Benny broke or when he might return.
It’ll be a busy first week of basketball starting on Monday at 7 with the regular season opener against New Hampshire. WBB opens their season Tuesday at 7 against Lafayette, and MBB has a quick turnaround with their second game on Wednesday hosting Canisius.