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Three Things to Look out for in Season Opener

Happy Opening Day Fizz Nation! The long-anticipated 2022-23 Syracuse Men’s Basketball Season tips off tonight (and boy do we need it). The Orange take on a Lehigh squad that they were supposed to meet last December, but the game was canceled due to COVID issues. Jim Boeheim comes into this season after his first losing campaign in his 46-year tenure as head coach. Here are three things to look out for in game 1 of Year 47.

1. What Does Benny Williams Bring?

It goes without saying Williams’ freshman campaign didn’t impress many. One of the more highly-touted recruits in recent memory, the Maryland native didn’t score in double figures until February 26 (and that game was a laugher in every sense of the word). Williams is slated to start this season despite his struggles from a year ago, and we just don’t know what we’re going to get. Boeheim said before the season that Williams scoring 10-12 points per game and snagging 5-6 rebounds per game would be game-changing. It’s hard to disagree with that. If we see the same Williams that looked lost handling the ball and scared to take a jump shot, it changes this team’s outlook entirely.

2. Who Fills the Role of Jesse Edwards’ Backup?

Peter Carey got more minutes than Mounir Hima in the first exhibition game, while the latter saw the court more in the second. Once Edwards went down for the season, the production at center wasn’t great with an injured Bourama Sidibe and Frank Anselem manning the minutes (Boeheim’s words about Anselem in his press conferences say it all). Carey may have the higher upside, but he hasn’t played a full year of basketball since 2019-20 thanks to both COVID and a knee injury. Hima is more experienced at the college level. It doesn’t feel like there’s a wrong answer here for Boeheim, but still a fascinating one.

3. What Defense Does Boeheim Pick?

It was hard to envision asking this question not too long ago. But, we did see some man-to-man defense in the exhibition games and Boeheim has teased using it. Plain and simple, the 2-3 zone did not work last year. Syracuse lacked the athleticism to effectively play it, and it showed when teams ripped it to shreds with ease. This year, the Orange (specifically the new recruits) are more athletic to quickly close out on shots and move with the ball. That being said, once you get to high school hoops, you rarely see a zone defense (it’s as good as disallowed in the NBA). Boeheim has been criticized for not using it in the past. Let’s not call it a welcome change, but it’d certainly be an interesting one.

As it always is with Syracuse, it’s tournament or bust. But this season has a different feel to it thanks to what happened last year. What happens in these three regards could determine how far this team goes.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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