The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball program has undergone a sea change this offseason, from a changing of the guard at the top of the program to the changing of the guards on the court, Jim Boeheim stepped down and Adrian Autry took the helm while quickly retaining Syracuse’s assistant coaches and making his first hire in Brenden Straughn.
Syracuse lost Joe Girard, Jesse Edwards, Symir Torrence and John Bol Ajak to the transfer portal while securing commitments from local product and Notre Dame transfer JJ Starling and most recently, Chance Westry. All this while Judah Mintz’s decision to stay in the NBA Draft or return to Syracuse for a sophomore season hangs in the balance.
That’s quite the tumultuous offseason to date and Autry hopped on Jon Rothstein’s College Hoops Today podcast to discuss a medley of topics, including how Syracuse is still looking to add a center and another guard or two. Autry stated this before the Westry commitment was made public.
On the podcast, Autry touched on all the topical items you’d expect, so we highlighted the most interesting aspects of that conversation below.
On what life is like since stepping in for Jim Boeheim.
“You don’t sleep as much because you’re constantly thinking about your team and the program. That’s the biggest change as far as the time constraints because sometimes it’s not even just where you’re going, it’s just where your mind... your mind is being consumed because you’re constantly thinking about the next thing and what’s next whether its recruiting, whether its practice, whether its academics. Anything within your program you’re trying to make it better and thinking about the next move.”
Biggest areas of need on the roster:
“Obviously you know we just lost our big guy so we have to fill that position with someone that’s experienced and someone that can be a threat. That’s the one thing that we have to do. I think we have to get a couple more guards. We have some guys that can really shoot the ball. But I think those two things right there — a guard and a big guy — is something we want to try and address before this thing ends.”
On JJ Starling:
“I think he’s ready tot take that next step. He had a solid freshman year but I’ve known JJ for a while. I know he can do better. I think (he’s) a guy that will be dynamic having the ball in his hand, making plays. Obviously off the ball, shooting the ball a lot better than he did last year. I know he can do that. So someone that can do a lot on the offensive end.”
On Judah Mintz’s decision:
“I think it’s going to be a tough decision for him but I’m in constant communication with him, pretty confident that he’ll make the best decision for himself. I think for us we have to operate as if we don’t have him at times and then you know obviously, when you’re operating in that you gotta make sure that decision that you make, if he does come back, can all fit.”
On who can make the biggest jump from last season to the next:
“I think Chris Bell, Benny Williams, Maliq [Brown], Justin Taylor, with more increased opportunity, I think they all would. I mean those guys played really well at times. It’s just the inconsistency which is expected of freshmen. I think they all will make the jump. And in particular I think Benny is the one that can really string it together. The way he played at the end of the year, that’s what he can do. We expect him to kind of carry that over.”
Whether or not 2-3 zone will be played:
“The zone has been something that has been obviously an iconic defense for Syracuse. Obviously I’ve worked under it for years. I see the value in it. But in today’s game, I think the game has evolved. I think you have to be more versatile. So we’ll be able to mix it up and play both man-to-man and zone.”
“I think when you talk about rivalries they have to be regional. Some of those might be out of conference. You think about all those things obviously, for us up in Syracuse, we have a passionate fan base, an older fan base. So it’s a lot of things that I have on my mind, on my plate, that I think about maybe reknowing some different ones (rivalries). ... With the new system you have to be creative. You have to go out and challenge yourself more. So we’ll be more willing to do that going forward.”
On the Georgetown rivalry specifically and continuing the series:
“I want to. I think it’s good for both schools. Everyone has their rivalries but with our fan base, I think it resonates with both fan bases. Obviously with Ed Cooley there I just think it’ll be a lot of excitement. We’re excited to go down there and vice versa. I think it’s a great rivalry. I would love to keep that going.”
On what to expect next season:
“Getting back to our standard. Obviously, as you said, winning. Playing exciting basketball. Getting up and down. Sharing the ball, competing on both ends. And not that we hadn’t done that. But obviously that’s the goal. That’s the standard. Getting back to being 20, 21 wins. Things like that. Those are just little short-term goals. But just playing together and playing the style of basketball that we’re working on now.”