The Syracuse Orange began the 2023-24 season with a “W” as Adrian Autry picked up his first career win in Monday’s 83-72 victory over New Hampshire. There’s a lot to dissect from our first taste of Red-Orange but these key points are what stood out most in the season opener:
Quadir is Here
Of the six sophomores who all returned from last year’s team, Quadir Copeland has arguably had the most eye-opening start to the fall. We saw him fill up the scoresheet in virtually every category during the preseason and that continued today with a great all-around performance - 10 points, 13 rebounds (10 defensive), three assists and this steal:
While Quadir likely won’t be challenging for a starting role in the immediate future, his high energy and potential to be a consistent threat off the bench makes him a vital part of this team. Most importantly, he’s such a selfless player and that’s something that is becoming rarer by the day in most major sports. We hope that team-first attitude is contagious in the locker room.
Taylor’s Swift Rise
The other standout is someone making the most of an unexpected situation. With Benny Williams still sidelined with his suspension, Justin Taylor got the start in his place and played 29 minutes in the opener. J.T. finished second on the team in points (14) and rebounds (6) while also draining a pair from beyond the arc, and he’s another guy who has shown some nice progress from the end of last season.
His inclusion in the lineup also led to the first example of “positionless basketball” in action, with Red running as many as four guards on the court at once. It’s so refreshing to see some creativity coming from the bench and I feel Autry is just getting warmed up. That said, this team is clearly...
Still a Work in Progress
Hey, two out of three possible positives isn’t bad. But I have to mention some issues of Orange teams past still lingering - namely their inability to close out games. This was a massive issue in Boeheim’s final years, especially the ill-fated 2021-22 campaign, and game 1/32+ featured the visitors cutting a 23-point deficit all the way down to seven early in the second half.
This was due to several factors: SU shot very poorly from deep (5/21), both Judah and J.J. went on cold streaks during the middle part of the game (finishing a combined 8/28 from the field), and even the two guys I praised above dealt with turnover issues.
But we’ll stay rational here and take into account that this is the first game and that there is expected to be some minor issues to be improved upon in the early weeks. If we get deep into December and are repeating ourselves... then there’s warranted concern.
For now though, I think we’ll all agree on what was actually the biggest improvement: the Scripts are back!
Season opener... sure, why not? pic.twitter.com/BgoZvAZn8Y— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) November 6, 2023
Please make these permanent. That is all.