Syracuse basketball will have a much different look to it this season, and the exhibition games could bring plenty of experimentation by Jim Boeheim. With Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant now in the NBA, and CJ Fair graduating, the Orange are extremely young. Much of the roster is talented, but unproven. And before SU starts taking on real competition like Michigan in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, the staff would like to have a decent idea of how the lineup will look.
Syracuse announced exhibition games for early November against Carlton and Adrian, which will be used as opportunities to get used to playing with one another. With new players and first-year starters, there’s a lot to get familiar with. There are plenty of questions heading into this season:
1) Who the starting point guard?
2) Which sophomore will have the biggest impact?
3) How good will Chris McCullough actually be?
Kaleb Joseph is thought to be replacing Ennis, but Michael Gbinije could fight for the spot. These exhibition games are an opportunity for guys to learn their teammates’ style of play. Last year it looked like Ennis had been playing with his teammates forever by the time the regular season began. They immediately clicked and had a stretch of 25 wins in a row. Unfortunately, the slump came at the wrong time and the season ended on a sour note.
This is also a time for Boeheim and his staff to see what works best for the team. These games do not count toward the overall record, so it is a huge opportunity to try things and see how they work without serious consequence. Most players will receive court time to show the coaches what they have to offer. This includes returning players, who will need to work with new players.
Hopefully, Boeheim uses these exhibitions as opportunities to get creative. Could the Orange go small and try to push the pace? Should they stack the perimeter with shooters and bomb away from beyond the arc? Could SU roll the dice on an inexperienced lineup and let them grow on the job? These games are the chance to dust off the dirt and try to learn your team before the games actually begin to matter.
Posted: Austin Pollack