Again, maybe closer than it needed to be, but again, a win over a mid-major opponent for Syracuse, who downed Canisius 89-77 to move to 2-0 on the year. Plenty of good and certainly some bad as well, so let’s hand out some grades:
JJ Starling B
If you want to talk about physical talent, especially from a speed standpoint, you’d be hard pressed to find someone with more of it than Starling. He’s definitely the fastest guy on the team and against a Canisius team out of the MAAC, it’s obvious that Starling just plays at a different speed.
However, that only gets you so far. The shot isn’t there right now. Against New Hampshire, Starling went just 3/13 from the field and 0/4 from three. Today, those numbers looked better. He shot 8/15 from the field, but the three ball wasn’t there and neither were the free throws. He shot 0/2 from beyond the arc and only went 1/5 from the line after going 4/4 in the opener.
For Starling to be a dynamic running mate for Judah Mintz, he has to improve from the perimeter.
Judah Mintz A
It was a slow start for Mintz, who didn’t score until eight minutes into the game. That certainly didn’t continue, though. Early in the second half, Mintz absolutely took over.
He had just six points in the first 20 minutes, but in the first 10 minutes of the second half he had 12. That corresponded with the stretch in the game where Syracuse took over, taking it from a single digit upset alert to a nearly 20 point blowout. Mintz has the type of talent to take over a game, and that’s exactly what he did.
Justin Taylor A
The improvement Taylor has made from last year to this year looks to be a revelation for Syracuse. He was advertised as a shooter, but one who can do the little things as well. That’s exactly what he looks like.
Today was his second straight game in double figures and he looks like the legitimate third scoring option behind Mintz and Starling. With the Orange losing two of their three top scorers from a year ago (Joe Girard and Jesse Edwards), they have a lot of production to replace from a team that already didn’t make the tournament.
Starling will fill a lot of that void, and it looks like Taylor could too. He’s only starting because Benny Williams is suspended, but it’s going to be difficult to send Taylor back to the bench.
Is it time to panic? Of course not. Should you be concerned? Yes. For all the talk of the zone being the issue Syracuse had defensively last year and the year before, people are starting to realize that it’s not about the style you play, it’s about how good your players are defensively.
Way too many open shots and way too many mental lapses. The coaching staff is visibly frustrated by it, with Autry even calling a timeout as a result. Assistant coach Allen Griffin said before the game that early season conditioning issues are part of the problem. If you’re a Syracuse fan, you hope that helps fix the problem because this isn’t sustainable.