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Basketball Is Back!

Now that is how you have a Carrier Dome debut.
In the tradition of this blog I usually review the first pre-season basketball game of the season. This year is no different, and I had the good fortune of seeing the game in person. While this was only a pre-season game, and you really cannot take too many definitive facts away from a game like this against a far lesser opponent with varying line ups, there were some facts to pull out of a game like this. Of course, we’re doing this bullet style.

Editor’s Note: Just as a reminder for basketball articles, if statistics are not labeled it is the field goal shooting from the floor, then three point shooting, and then total points.

* Syracuse started out in man-to-man defense, but they also played a fair amount of 2-3 zone. This team looks again like it will be slightly better at man defense than the zone this season.

* James Southerland is a very good player. He was 7-7 from the floor and 5-5 on 3 point shots for 19 points in 14 minutes of work.

* I have always thought that Scoop Jardine was a flop. However, he actually impressed me with his much improved ball handling skills. He broke a couple of ankles. Too bad he couldn’t finish with a nice shot from the floor. He did draw several fouls and made 8-10 from the free throw line. He finished with ten points in 18 minutes. More impressive was his 11 assists, which came in all sorts of scenarios.

* Andy Rautins will be expected to carry the shooting load for this team from behind the arc. Sadly he is not as clutch as other great Syracuse players. He was stone cold in this game finishing only 1-7 and 0-4 from the floor. As my good friend Matt Glaude points out during the game, he will have cold games this year, but he is pretty good at defending on the floor, and that is a critical part of his game. I agree completely.

* Both Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson are better inside the paint. Rick Jackson took a while to get going, and you could tell he had a lot more off season rust than Onuaku, but he was pretty good. Onuaku was powerful and always seemed to be in the right place to rebound. Our inside game will be better than last year.

* Kris Joseph was also improved from last year. That is how this whole thing should work.

* I’ve said it in past years, but one of the keys to a great basketball team is the ability to consistently make mid-range jump shots. This team failed to show that they could do that in this contest. Hopefully it was just a cold shooting day, but the ability to hit a mid-range jumper is a very underrated skill in basketball at any level.

* The starting line-up was Brandon Triche, Andy Rautins, Wes Johnson, Rick Jackson, and Arinze Onuaku. Your guess is as good as mine if this will be your starters come opening day against Albany.

* Speaking of Triche, he played well delivering the ball to other players and shooting. He disappeared in this game so we will have to see if he delivers in the next game.

* Interestingly enough, Wes Johnson lead the team in blocks with four. Jackson had one and Onuaku had none.

Obviously we will know a bit more about this team in the next exhibition game versus Le Moyne, but this is a good start. This team will be pretty good and they will be pretty entertaining this season. This should be a relief for anyone panicking about losing Jonny Flynn. This was a nice (fake) win for Syracuse, and the team will be fun to see what they can achieve with the players they have.


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