Last season’s SU guard play was much like this year’s edition of the football team – consistently inconsistent. Scoop Jardine had great games, but most fans were petrified of him late in games due to some key turnovers and poor decisions. Brandon Triche was dominant when SU was winning, but typically absent in the games they lost. Then there was Dion. Oh boy, Dion. All three are back with fresh attitudes, better bodies (except Triche who was already in ideal shape and maintained it) and a hunger to be better. And they’re trying to hold off a freshman. Insert Michael Carter-Williams.
As a general rule of thumb, you’re not allowed to get excited over a scrimmage. SU fans know this better than anyone since last year Fab Melo looked amazing at Midnight Madness then proceeded to have a Nikoloz Tskitishvili-esque hype to production ratio. But when your 6’5” young guard (hair pictured above) slams one legitimately over your 7’1” newly-athletic-again center, you’re allowed to get a little pumped. (And how about Fab playing defense all scrimmage? A new concept for him.) Carter-Williams has serious game and The Fizz would be shocked if he doesn’t contribute in a major way this year.
Carter-Williams tells The Fizz he’s worked a lot with Andy Rautins, who has been practicing with the Orange during the NBA lockout. Rautins was not only a great sharpshooter, but also one of the best zone defenders the Per’fessor has ever had at the top of the 2-3. He knew how to shoot passing lanes and create turnovers, something that SU severely lacked last year. With similar length as Rautins, MCW could find his way into major minutes with a dedication to the defensive end.
As for how Jimmy B will actually split up the minutes remains to be seen. None of the players know because Boeheim doesn’t know yet. The first full practice was this past weekend (the team mainly works out over the offseason without coaching staff). We’ll probably see 30-35 minutes for Scoop and Brandon, 25-30 for Dion and 15-20 for MCW. If any of them gets hot, it’s up to Boeheim to adjust accordingly. Also don’t rule out Trevor Cooney getting 10-15 as a shooting specialist. When Gerry McNamara says you’re the best shooter he’s ever seen, you can shoot.
Guard play should obviously be a strength for the Orange. If the three returning guards live up to their preseason talk – Scoop in better shape, Dion having a revamped offensive game, and Brandon realizing he’s typically the best player on the court – the top 5 ranking won’t be a problem to maintain. Add in Carter-Williams and his go-go gadget arms and the Final Four might not be so far fetched.
Posted: Craig Hoffman