Entering the 2015-2016 season, Coleman is single-handedly the most valuable piece to the team and also the biggest question mark. After not playing in almost two full years, the new Coleman had a huge game against a very undersized LeMoyne team. It was great to see the Orange’s best (and basically only) big man back in action, and his 15 points and seven rebounds were more than expected. Defensively, Coleman still needs a lot of work. His reluctance to go up and challenge shots will not bode well for the zone defense, but this is probably because Jim Boeheim doesn’t want him anywhere near foul trouble.
Widely regarded as the scholarship player likely to get the least amount of playing time, freshman guard Franklin Howard is going to make the rotation harder to coach for Jim Boeheim. With Michael Gbinije starting at point guard, the minutes are limited for Howard, who put up a respectable ten points, three assists, and three steals in just 15 minutes. However, if he remains active on defense and scores well, Boeheim may rethink having Gbinije start at point guard. Howard’s play may ultimately give SU more depth in the frontcourt, and if the trend continues, will take minutes away from Kaleb Joseph.
The 30-Second Shot Clock
Seriously, how great was it having a 30 second shot clock? For a team that thrives off of long defensive possessions, the new rule will only enhance the Orange’s defensive efficiency. Opponents will have less time to find a good shot and ultimately, the zone will greatly benefit from the new rule.
When an ACC school only out-rebounds a Division II school by five and finishes the game with the same number of defensive rebounds as a roster that didn’t start anyone close to 6-foot-10, there will be problems. One of the zone’s common inefficiencies over the years has been the lack of rebounding control, and if Monday night was a sign of things to come, the Orange will struggle against the seven footers in the ACC. Tyler Roberson led the team with ten boards in 24 minutes and Malachi Richardson and Coleman each had seven. Simply put, the forwards need to be better.
I didn’t see anything that I particularly liked from Joseph in this exhibition game. What got him benched last season were turnovers and too many three point attempts. So how does he answer these deficiencies in the first game back? By taking five threes and only making two of them. I could only imagine how much Boehiem fumed over his shots, regardless of how open they were. What the Orange needs this season is a driving presence, it has enough three-point shooting. If Joseph wants to play, he’s going to need to score while driving into the paint.
As Syracuse’s maligned three-point specialist, Cooney has a very rough three years to start his career. If Monday night was any indication, it may not be getting better. Cooney missed all three of his attempts from behind the arc, and although he will not play his way out of the starting lineup, he needs to help the team with its weakness: inside scoring. Cooney is a very good penetrator, and it may be time for him to start focusing on that aspect of his game.