Orange Nation got its first round of free tacos on Sunday after Syracuse knocked off Carleton 76-68 at the Dome, Sunday.
The win came largely due to the performances of the younger players, especially Kaleb Joseph, Chris McCullough, and Ron Patterson. Although this was an exhibition game against a team not even from the United States, Carleton is one of, if not the strongest teams north of the border and even Jim Boeheim went to express concern last week about the game. It makes sense, too. Carleton has won 10 Canadian national championships in the last 12 years, including four straight. If anything, this was a strong test and it came early too.
There is much concern about this year’s team because of what it lost, not what it gained. There is no question this team lost key, valuable members such as Tyler Ennis, Jerami Grant, and CJ Fair, but there is still talent displayed, and it showed on Sunday.
Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s game:
Kaleb Joseph will get the job done:
This is a no-brainer. The freshman point guard from Nashua, N.H. shows similar skills as Ennis, and displayed them bit by bit against Carleton. He sees the open lanes and has enough speed to drive to the basket, which does not give the defense enough time to react and block a shot or prevent him from scoring. He has the floater touch like Ennis had, but there was only one. Time will tell to see how much of a part of his game it is, because that was Ennis’ specialty move. Joseph took one 3-pointer which did not fall. This is one big part of his game he will need to show off because Syracuse lost two guys who could shoot the long ball in Ennis and Fair. Overall, he has some serious talent and will only get better with more experience. Expect him to be a very solid point guard – better than Scoop Jardine, a different type of player from Michael Carter-Williams, but only a little bit behind Ennis.
Chris McCullough will provide valuable minutes:
The freshman forward played well. He had 14 points in 34 minutes on the floor, which is a good showing. He even grabbed six boards. He is an aggressive player and shows a lot of similar characteristics as Fair. McCullough even took a three and drained it from the left wing. Like Joseph, he will only get better with more time in Boeheim’s system while playing with a new group of guys. This is why exhibition games and non-conference games is so big. It allows you to get accustomed to a new environment and style of play without really focusing on wins and losses. Syracuse has enough depth at the forward position with Tyler Roberson, B.J. Johnson and even Chinonso Obokoh, so if Rakeem Christmas and McCullough gets into foul trouble, Boeheim has the freedom to move his big guys around.
Is Ron Patterson the new Trevor Cooney?:
Patterson came out of nowhere in the game yesterday. He dropped 15 points in 15 minutes, and 12 of his points came from three pointers. The rest of the offense did a solid job of setting up Patterson, to get him open for the three. The only reason he might be last year’s non-conference Cooney is once he gets the open look, he can drain the three. He has more skills than Cooney, who has shown he cannot exactly do much more than just shoot a three. He rarely takes two-point jumpers, and his release is too strong when he drives to the basket. Patterson had a steal, drove to the basket, and slammed it home. He provides more than Cooney. Expect to see him get more playing time.
Tyler Roberson still might not be ready for a major role:
Roberson is expected to get significantly more minutes this year, partially due to the loss of Fair. But, his first showing was not special. He scored just two points in 17 minutes, but perhaps he provided minutes on the floor with Christmas in foul trouble in the first half. Right now there is not much for him, but that could certainly change if he becomes more and more comfortable in the system.
The three-guard system could work out very well:
The best trio of guards on the floor for Syracuse was without a doubt Joseph, Patterson, and Michael Gbinije. There was discussion as to who would be the starting point guard this season – Joseph or Gbinije, but after Joseph’s performance, he might get the nod if he keeps it going. Gbinije will still get his minutes, there is no question about that. Finding a spot for him to play and perform is the tricky part. He would fit well in a starting lineup that consisted of Joseph, Patterson/Cooney, Gbinije, McCullough, and Christmas.
Syracuse has a week off to prepare for its next exhibition game against Adrian on November 10.
Posted: Austin Pollack