Adrian Autry seemingly has the weight of the world on his shoulders as the new head coach of Syracuse basketball for a number of reasons. He’s following one of the most legendary coaches in the history of college basketball and has a program to somewhat rebuild, all in an ever-changing landscape of college athletics. Not so simple.
On top of that, Autry and the program have gotten significantly more attention this offseason than in recent years because of the coaching change, most recently in a long-featured piece from Dana O’Neil in The Athletic. Autry is motivating himself in plenty of different ways to succeed in year one, as she describes:
“Gone is Jim Boeheim, and along with him the 47 years’ worth of trophies, pictures, trinkets, and doodads that once spilled from the shelves and lined the walls. In their place is nothing but intention and hope, the walls stripped bare and the shelves emptied. A history of determination, winning, grit, and championships has been printed onto computer paper to show workers where the head coach would like the words to be painted, but save for a pair of lonely Final Four chairs plopped haphazardly, the place is otherwise decidedly unadorned.”
It truly is a tricky line, as O’Neil points out, to praise the person who gave you a chance to play college basketball, then coach under him, while also having your own ideas about how you want to change the way that he did things. So, to do that, Autry is trying to mesh ideas with the past and the present, in a modern way.
“That leaves Autry as both the caretaker and the innovator of that #OrangeStandard. It’s a weird line to straddle, especially for someone who was a beneficiary of how things were always done,” O’Neil wrote.
There is not another Boeheim coming to be the coach of SU, and Autry will do things his way, for better or worse.
“Ask around the Syracuse program for words to describe Autry, and the words people eventually come around to are truth-teller. His predecessor, of course, was not exactly one to mince words, either,” O’Neil continued on.
But, the answers about strategy will come in the results, and there really is a sense of unknown about how the tactics Autry will put into play, such as more man-to-man defense, pushing the ball in transition, and playing with a more athletic style. Boeheim’s best teams came when his players fit the system, but now it seems Autry is going to make his system successful for multiple types of players, the adaptation that is needed in college basketball. Expectations are high, as they always are in Syracuse, but the mystery of what is to come brings a new energy and excitement.
“What is Syracuse basketball without Jim Boeheim?” McNamara said to O’Neil. “To be determined, right?”