The first exhibition of the Syracuse basketball season is upon us, and its sure to be boring as hell. Every year, Syracuse fans wait months for the season to start, and every year all of that built up anticipation is wasted on a few games against no-name teams. This year isn’t any different, but Syracuse’s game against Indiana University of Pennsylvania tomorrow is still the first time we’ll see the Orange this season, and the look of this team has changed so much in the offseason that there’s still plenty of reasons to pay attention.
How Do The Graduate Transfers Fit The System?
Jim Boeheim has been doing his job for 30 years, but there haven’t been many where he’s had to deal with a pair of graduate transfers. Andrew White III and John Gillon have both already proven they belong on the college basketball scene, but it takes a certain kind of player to work in Boeheim’s system. The biggest question: can they play the 2-3 zone? Boeheim only recruits players who can do it, and these veterans are still first-timers in Syracuse’s signature defense.
Which Freshmen Will Stand Out?
Practice tells you a lot about a player, but there’s nothing that can replace the value of game experience. Tyus Battle, Matthew Moyer and Taurean Thompson have none of it. The experts expect Battle to get significant minutes whether he’s in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, but the fate of the others are still up in the air. Thompson should get minutes, but Moyer now has to compete with White and Gillon for time, a pair of players he didn’t think would be at Syracuse when he committed. Tomorrow we’ll see who Boeheim puts out there, and who steps up to the challenge.
What Is Frank Howard’s Role On This Team?
Frank Howard had a tough go in his first year with the Orange. The fanbase still had the bad taste of Kaleb Joseph in its mouth, and another freshman point guard who couldn’t even break into the starting lineup of a team with no other point guards didn’t make the greatest first impression. But over time, Howard proved to be an asset. He’s the best passer on the team, and he’s the most experienced guard on the team after Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney and Malachi Richardson all left. Still, the back court is crowded and Howard is one of the biggest question marks going into the year.
There are players with no college basketball experience taking the floor for the first time tomorrow, and more without any experience under Boeheim. Tomorrow is the time for first impressions.