Syracuse baksetball opened its highly anticipated season with a 83-65 preseason win over Indiana University Pennsylvania at the Carrier Dome. While it one shouldn’t over-analyze a win over a Division II school. there are some things that Syracuse fans should take note of.
The Starting Five, Depth
This has been a highly discussed topic this offseason. Syracuse has plenty of depth, so much more than in the past, so who would Boeheim pick for his starting five? How often would he rotate? Well, the first question was, obviously, answered right away. Franklin Howard, graduate transfer Andrew White III, Tyler Lydon, Tyler Roberson and DaJuan Coleman made up the first starting lineup of the season. Their time on the court didn’t go well at all. Trailing 15-3 less than five minutes in, Boeheim made a full line change, bringing in five new players. John Gillon, Tyus Battle, Matthew Moyer, Taurean Thompson and Pascal Chukwu all made their Syracuse debuts at the same time. While I wouldn’t count on Boeheim pulling the full platoon switch, expect to see plenty of rotation this season.
Defense: MAN TO MAN?????
Syracuse played man-to-man for a stretch in the first half. Yes. Syracuse. Under Jim Boeheim. It didn’t go well and the Orange quickly abandoned it. Instead, Boeheim implemented full court pressure. The press worked wonders for Syracuse late last season, particularly in the dramatic tournament wins over Gonzaga and Virginia. THe advantage Syracuse has this season is the aforementioned depth, which, in theory, could allow the Orange to press more often. That is not to say that the Orange will or should press for forty minutes like Shaka Smart’s VCU and now Texas teams, but it is a great weapon to have.
As for the man-to-man, Boeheim had this to say.
“We could theoretically use it in some situations.”
Thanks for the clarification, coach.
Tyler Lydon has undoubtedly been the most talked about player leading up to this season. The forward is has lottery pick potential and captured the attention of the nation during Syracuse’s magical Final Four run last spring. However, the best players on Tuesday were the new kids on the block. It was Tyus Battle who started the turnaround for Syracuse with the Orange down 15 around five minutes into the game. He hit his first of four threes on the day en route to 16. Pascal Chukwu dominated down low with a pair of blocks and after a quiet start Andrew White III finished the day with eight and his fellow transfer, John Gillon finished with nine assists. The Orange finished with four players in double digits in scoring, inlduing Tyler Lydon who picked up a double-double with 12 points and ten rebounds.
There are a lot of new pieces and this team is a work in progress. The next few weeks are the time that Boeheim and his staff can iron out the wrinkles with this team and create a very strong contender.
The Orange next take to the court on Tuesday, November 8th with an exhibition game against neighbor LeMoyne.