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Syracuse men’s basketball: what to watch for vs. Canisius

SU looks to get to 2-0 on Wednesday

New Hampshire v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team took care of business in its season-opener with a 73-62 victory over New Hampshire. Thanks to 20 points from Judah Mintz, a double-double from Quadir Copeland, five players in double-figures and some help from the 2-3 zone, Adrian Autry notched his first win as head coach of the Orange.

Syracuse (1-0) returns to the court tonight against Canisius (0-0). Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm ET and will stream on ESPN+ and ACCNX.

Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

Ben: Starting backcourt

Despite combining for 30 points in Monday’s season-opening win, Judah Mintz and JJ Starling struggled a bit. The duo went 8-of-28 from the field and 1-of-8 from deep. Mintz picked up his fourth foul just a few minutes into the second half and was forced to sit for roughly eight minutes. A few of the fouls were ticky-tack and avoidable.

There were some positives. The two went 13-of-15 from the charity stripe and didn’t commit a turnover in 62 combined minutes of action. As these two go this season, Syracuse will go. I’m looking forward to a cleaner performance on Wednesday.

Kevin: Movement on offense

Syracuse is adjusting to a different offensive style this year. Adrian Autry wants them to get the ball and go, but when teams slow the Orange down, how will they attack? I thought Syracuse reverting to a lot of standing and watching last night, so I want to see what adjustments are made. Teams are going to send help on Mintz and Starling, so players who flash to the paint should be in position for easy baskets or offensive rebounds.

Max: Who steps up in the paint?

The Orange big men aren’t nearly at full strength. Maliq Brown battled through a lower-body injury against New Hampshire, and Naheem McLeod only played two minutes with a bandage on his right hand. Likely without Benny Williams again, someone else will likely have to step up for Syracuse. Quadir Copeland filled in nicely against the Wildcats, but more help is needed when facing a Canisus team, who scored 50 points in the paint in its sole exhibition game.

Dom: Full speed all the way

It was only one game, but Syracuse clearly got off to an amazing start versus New Hampshire before taking its foot off the gas and letting a comfortable margin of victory turn into a much closer win. Autry and the Orange have minimal time to get some consistency going before heading down to Hawaii for Maui Jim Maui. Getting some consistent effort from start to finish against Canisius is an early sign of progress as the Orange’s schedule will soon ramp up.

Szuba: Three up

Syracuse has been limited in its outside shooting so far in one true game and two exhibitions. I’m curious to see if those data points continue or if the Orange can emerge from outside. Specifically, are Starling and Mintz willing to pull from outside when given space? On the other side of the ball, Syracuse wasn’t terrific in two exhibitions defending the three. The Orange gave up 31 attempts from range against New Hampshire but the Wildcats made just eight. What kind of perimeter defense do we see?

Mike: High Five

Even 7’4” Naheem McLeod wasn’t able to corral every pass sent his way in the opener, and part of the reason may have been relying too much on his pure size. While it’s a great feature to have, it doesn’t entirely mask the mobility issues that landed him in the transfer portal to begin with. McLeod’s mainly going to park in the paint so I’d like to see more plays set up with him already under the basket instead of trying to toss it above his head in stride.

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What will you be watching for during tonight’s in-state matchup?