The eighth head coach in the history of the Syracuse Orange men‘s basketball program was introduced Friday morning. Adrian Autry, who has been with the program in some capacity for the last 12 years, succeeded Jim Boeheim in a press conference held at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.
It’s been almost half a century since the last one of these transitions took place, so naturally there were plenty of questions as to where the program will go from here. Dom and I were at the conference and will do our best to walk you through everything that went on.
New Ideas, Same Standard
From the moment that Coach Autry was introduced, he set a clear first impression of the future of the program. Adrian first went to shake hands with Jim Boeheim and his family before he went to take the podium.
With a new face at the helm, our first thoughts went to how Autry will look to implement his own style to the program. Make no mistake: although the methods may change, the expectations will not.
“The Orange Standard is the history of winning, playing hard, competing for championships, resilience and grit... I have a new voice, a new face with new ideas. But the standards that have helped build this program will not change.”
When asked about some potential changes to scheming, including the possibility of playing man-to-man defense, Autry certainly didn’t rule out anything:
“We’re going to do whatever it takes for us to win the game. That’s the main goal, to win the game. So whatever that may be, that’s what we’ll play.”
Coach Boeheim, SU Athletic Director John Wildhack, and Autry himself all name-dropped his college basketball experience, both as a player and on the sidelines for multiple programs. Autry played for the Orange under Boeheim for four seasons (1991-1994) before transitioning to Director of Basketball Operations with Virginia Tech (2008-2010) and then assistant coach for the Hokies (2010-2011). Autry reunited with the Orange, first as an assistant coach (2011-2016) before being promoted to Associate Head Coach.
There was speculation as to if Syracuse considered an outside hire to take Boeheim’s place, but Women’s Basketball Head Coach Felisha Legette-Jack has full confidence that Autry was the right choice:
“When we grow people here, what we stand for right here, why do you want to go to another state or another city another university and pick what’s the best that you can find when best you can find is right in your backyard?”
Wildhack did not give a firm answer as to what external options were considered, if any.
Roster, Staff in Limbo
A common theme from Autry’s presser: he has a lot to sort out with how the team will look like moving forward. Most of this past season’s team was in attendance for the announcement, and Autry embraced each one of them once his speech was wrapped up:
We also know that two players from this season’s team weren’t in attendance at the ‘Melo Center on Friday morning: Benny Williams and Chris Bell.
(Ed. note: It was reported that Williams was in class during this press conference)
A lot of people are asking, Judah Mintz did attend the press conference. Benny Williams was in class. https://t.co/wOpoQoN34q— Mike Waters (@MikeWatersSYR) March 10, 2023
Technically, every member of the Orange is eligible to return to the team for the 2023-24 season. John Bol Ajak already announced that he is transferring but was on hand to see the ceremony. Given the early warning signs and lack of attendance, it’s likely that Bell is gone as well. Pending a miracle, Mintz will declare for the 2023 NBA Draft sometime in the near future. Williams was originally a Red recruit so we shall see if he sticks around. Jesse Edwards could return, but that depends on if he gets any offers overseas. Joe Girard sounds 50/50.
Long story short, there’s a lot of roster questions that Autry will need to sort out over the next couple of months - especially coming off a season where roster inexperience doomed the Orange in primetime matchups against ACC opponents like Miami, North Carolina, and Virginia.
“When you look at this year, break it down, we had a ton of close games that we lost. Some of that was due to inexperience. We’ve talked about that going into the season. This is a young team, and I think if we can get all these guys to come back, I think we can really, really put ourselves in a place to be very successful next year. I think we want that. They want that.”
On the staff front, who knows what will happen. Autry said that the program “has some other things right now to take care of,” but didn’t rule out if any current staff members are either staying or leaving. Gerry McNamara’s future with the Orange is the biggest name to watch for over the next couple of weeks.
We both went in with a lot of uncertainty over the state of the program moving forward.
After Autry’s remarks, we both left feeling a bit more optimistic.
TNIAAM readers: what does new Head Coach Adrian Autry need to do to bring the Orange back to prominence? What are your initial takeaways with Autry at the helm? Leave your thoughts down below.