Syracuse bounced back after a brutal effort against Cal in Thursday’s opener at MSG, with a 66-63 win. But even in victory, there’s plenty for Jim Boeheim to teach his squad. For most of the game the Orange gave the Manhattan fans plenty to cheer about, in a building that was filled with mostly SU fans. But the 2nd Half Iowa surge brought the Hawkeyes within an eyelash of pulling off a huge comeback. With under a minute to play Iowa had it down to just a one-point lead, and with a chance to take the lead. It should’ve never been that close.
Rakeem Christmas showed the aggressive side fans are dying to see out of him, leading the way with a big 1st Half, and finishing with 18. Young Chris McCullough also proved why his potential is so intriguing. He ended the game with 20 and 8 rebounds. C-Mac can be a difference maker on this team because of his length and athleticism. The exciting part is how we’ve just scratched the surface on his potential. The offense ran much smoother than the previous night, when the inexperience of Kaleb Joseph and lack of a true big man seemed to make the attack more stagnant than the air inside the Dome.
The weekend in NYC proved how far the Orange have to go to become a legit touney team. Syracuse was outworked and beaten by a better Cal team on Thursday. But the comeback by Iowa should also teach the Orange it cannot take any team lightly, no matter the lead. The Hawkeyes seemed to turn to a higher gear than the Orange, and a young SU squad must learn it needs to play a full 40 minutes every night.
Credit SU for finding a way to bounce back Friday after a deflating night against the Bears. And stacking wins against power conference teams like Iowa is exactly what you want to do early in the season. But there’s still plenty to improve upon for the Orange. A weekend in NYC that leaves fans wondering what exactly we have in this edition of Syracuse basketball.