With November right around the corner, it’s time to preview the crew looking to resurrect Syracuse basketball from an abysmal 16-17 season last year. What better than doing it one-by-one and starting with the possible “1” guard to lead this team on the offensive side of the ball.
Welcome to the Judah Mintz era in Central New York. A borderline five star out of high school, Mintz represents the future of this program at the point guard position. From what is evident following his high school career and keeping tabs on his performance in the exhibition game against IUP, the Maryland native mirrors Tyler Ennis’s control of the offense and elite vision bringing the ball into the frontcourt. Mintz is speedy to the rim and his ten point second half in the Orange’s first exhibition game proved an added scoring prowess with the ball at the top of the key.
SU’s presumptive starting point guard is understandable, adaptable and willing to grow after each play. A sluggish first half Tuesday allowed for a burst in the final 20 minutes against IUP. Following the game, his maturity shined too, which is admirable for a freshman in a stacked conference where experience, more often than not, rules.
The challenge with Mintz is his authoritativeness and defense. Although the 6’3 freshman has showed his control at the “1”, the first half of the exhibition game against IUP exposed what could happen down the stretch or in late game situations, where Girard takes matters into his own hands. JG3 might be the leader, but Mintz has to take the ball away from the senior and establish his role early on. That allows for better spacing and offensive plays to materialize. Trust between the freshman and senior is pivotal to create a tight-knit backcourt willing to control and defer when necessary.
The defensive side is tough to gage. All the exhibition game showed fans was SU is open to playing both man-to-man and zone, which was already stressed during basketball media day. But IUP found a way to expose both schemes, especially on quick ball movement against man-to-man coverage. Due to its one-on-one nature, that strategy shouldn’t hurt a man defense, but players like Mintz were sagging off their assignments too much and allowing straight line drives that create even more confusion on switches and help. The Maryland native’s zone defensive role looked great because of his sheer athleticism and basketball IQ, but with SU’s willingness to switch back and forth, Mintz’s in-season growth must shine through defensively in both sets.
From ESPN’s 33rd ranked player in the class of 2022 to a presumptive starter, Mintz is the seesaw between a winning and losing season for the Cuse. He has the highest ceiling among all the freshman and will likely play the most minutes. Don’t approximate the guard’s success on scoring either because the focus should lie on his distribution on offense and feistiness on the defensive end, while points are a clear plus.
Back in 2013, former Syracuse standout Tyler Ennis recorded a masterful second-team all american and first-team all conference freshman campaign. He averaged 13 points, six rebounds and three assists as the team’s starting point guard. If Mintz mirrors a season of that caliber, SU is golden, and it might mean a quick Central New York career for one of the top newcomers in the ACC.