What a strong, high-level basketball game. Two teams going at it early in the season from start to finish. A 14-2 start by Syracuse led by Joe Girard and Judah Mintz pumping up the majority Orange crowd (a small one), but the Spiders had the answer, and it was back and forth all night from there. Overall, a great experience for a young SU team to come into this game and learn how to play in a neutral site, tough, close game. Let’s see how everyone graded out.
Joe Girard III: A
What an incredible shooting display the senior put on in the first half. 21 points to carry an offense that did not really have much else going on. Thankfully, he got some help to start the second half but cooled off at the beginning of it. A massive three before the under-eight timeout got the pro-Syracuse crowd back into it and was needed big time. He was relatively quiet late in the game, but as an emotional leader, his IQ is unmatched. A career-high 31 points isn’t too shabby.
Judah Mintz: A-
This guy is the real deal folks. Offensively and defensively. He can get a bit out of control on offense sometimes and that causes turnovers/tough shots, but for the most part, he competes at an elite level and his ball-handling is terrific. Mintz did a great job of setting up Bell as well, he’s terrific at finding shooters. He was a little quiet down the stretch and forced a bad three, but there’s a lot to learn from and he’s already so dynamic. Oh, and he’s clutch, what a terrific performance in overtime.
Chris Bell: A-
Finally, a bounce-back from Bell. he started slow and didn’t play much in the first few games. But, he hit his first shots of both halves and found that true stroke. His defense on the wing was not stellar, but his length makes up for it. Confidence is key for Bell, as is with all shooters, he’ll need to keep it up moving forward.
Benny Williams: B
Williams has a fire in him that we didn’t see last year. That’s two games in a row he’s gotten into it fighting for a loose ball. He fights defensively, but the offense is still a major work in progress. He’s fighting every second on the floor, and even though he gets an earful from Boeheim a lot on the bench, he keeps on digging deeper. That’s the sign of a team player.
Jesse Edwards: B-
Early foul trouble really prevented Edwards from doing anything in the first half. He started to score in the second half working against Neal Quinn, who he faced last year when Quinn played for Lafayette. He played very timidly on defense for the first part of the second half, wary not to pick up another foul, and that hurt, because Richmond’s interior passing was strong. But, he turned it on down the stretch with multiple key blocks to get stops for SU. He totaled 5 in the game and really came alive down the stretch when the Orange needed him.
Mounir Hima: A-
Hima was a revelation coming in for Edwards after he picked up his second foul. He played the last 14 minutes of the half, blocked multiple shots, and rebounded well. He did everything you want a backup center to do. Compete, rebound, and play active defense.
Jim Boeheim: B+
Boeheim gets a major boost for going to a zone-only defense, and it worked for the most part because man-to-man was so bad against Colgate, but his substitutions were weird. Taylor played a lot in the first half and Copeland didn’t get a second. In the second half, he kept riding his starters for the first 8 minutes, only bringing Symir Torrence in to give both Mintz and Girard short breathers. Running with the starters late in games is what this man has always done and that doesn’t change now. So much trust in his starters and that paid off. A gusty performance from Boeheim’s team.