With the season opener just under a month away, things are starting to ramp up for Syracuse. Media Day is on Friday along with Orange Tip-Off later that night in the Dome. But, yesterday marked a big day for Orange fans, as college basketball insider and reporter Jon Rothstein made his annual trip to Central New York to take in Syracuse practice and talk with Jim Boeheim. SU’s head coach had a lot to say, and will surely be asked about it Friday at the Melo Center.
Boeheim started with the fact that his returners, Joe Girard III, Jesse Edwards, Symir Torrence, and Benny Williams will all have significant roles this season, but none might be bigger than the senior guard who is now in his fourth year with the program, and likely fourth straight season in the starting lineup.
So that’s Girard, and Boeheim likely knows what he’ll get from Edwards and Torrence, similar production to last season, but Williams is the key. He struggled as a freshman, but Boeheim said that he needs to take a jump in year two, and that starts with entering the starting lineup.
“He has to get 10-11 points and six rebounds for us,” the 47th-year head coach said.
So that’s the experience, but the freshmen are making headlines as well. Specifically, Rothstein was impressed by top-recruit Judah Mintz and his ability. Boeheim did not hold back when comparing him to a former Orange point guard of the past.
Furthermore, Rothstein observed that SU will have a completely different identity than a season ago. Last year was all about shooting, offense, and spacing. This season it’s about getting back to what the zone was in the past. Lanky, athletic, quickness, and effective defense. The Orange had one of their worst defensive seasons ever in 2022, but that might be changing.
Additionally, Rothstein, who when he makes a starting five prediction is usually correct, thinks that a backcourt of Girard and Mintz will go with a frontcourt of Edwards, Williams, and Chris Bunch (who he compared to James Southerland) over Justin Taylor. But, he added through Boeheim that whoever doesn’t start will be the sixth man.
Lastly, maybe the most interesting comparison made all night was that of Quadir Copeland. It seems as if he might be the freshman falling under the radar, with the three mentioned earlier taking the headlines and the big men having their defined roles, but Rothstein and Boeheim found an interesting comp for the 6’6 guard.
So, the Orange are inexperienced and will have to deal with growing pains, but Boeheim says that they will go 9-10 deep, something SU has not done in years. The coach and his staff will likely require some patience early on, but as he says, he thinks not only is this team going to the NCAA Tournament and potentially better than Sweet 16 teams in 2018 and 2021, “This is the best team we’ve had in a while.”