0 Comments Published on 11.15.2014 by John Brennan
|Another season from the friendly confines of Section 309.|
Syracuse officially started its 2014-2015 regular season Friday night in the 2K Classic against the Kennesaw State Owls. Personally, I had never heard of this school, and had to look up on Wikipedia to find out they're from the greater Atlanta area, and since moving up to D1 for the '05-'06 season has won 10 or more games only four times. So, my expectations weren't high. Syracuse, on the other hand, has some crazy streak of 20+ win seasons, and though ranked in the Top25 to start the season, has some serious questions as to how well this rather young team can be. It's still too early to answer that questions, but what's clear is that the Orange dominated an awful Owls team 89-42.
- The leading scorer for the Orange was senior leader Rakeem Christmas, who finished with 21 points on 8-13 from the floor, 5-7 at the line, and was a rebound short of a double-double. Rak, as with most of the team, felt very comfortable inside against a Kennesaw defense that was just clueless. Christmas only played 24 minutes though, spending a considerable amount of time on the bench with foul trouble (finishing with four).
- BJ Johnson was the surprise of the game. In 26 unexpected minutes, BJ was the second leading scorer with 19 points (7-11 overall, 2-6 from three). He looked pretty good out there, stepping up into the man off the bench role usually filled by Michael Gbinije, who was suspended for the game for a violation of team rules. Silent G will be available for Sunday's game.
- Three other Orange men were in double digit scoring: Chris McCullough (16), Trevor Cooney (12), and Tyler Roberson (10).
- That said, it was a poor shooting night for the Orange. They finished the game at 48%, though that was boosted by a better second half, where they shot 65.63% compared to an awful 34.88% in the first. With all of those misses, there was a bright spot: 25 offensive rebounds for 26 second-chance points.
- Rebounding was a strong stat for this team, finishing with 56 total. But really, that's just a testament to how awful Kennesaw State was.
- The Syracuse defense was very strong. After the game, head coach Jim Boeheim credited the Carleton game with really improving the Orange defensive effort giving the zone a tough workout early on. Well, that showed in this game: the guards were very active while the frontcourt made a virtually impenetrable wall around the basket. It was very difficult for the Owls to score, whether it was because the ball was taken away from them 15 times, or whether they took a bad shot, missed, and Syracuse took it the other way.
- This game by no means answers the question, but the Syracuse freshmen played well and clearly have a lot of talent. Kaleb Joseph seemed very comfortable running the offense, especially in the second half when adjustments were made and they slowed things down a little bit to get better shots. Chris McCullough is just special -- this kid can ball, and I'll be really excited if he stays three or four years because he's got player of the year potential -- conference, maybe even nationally.
- Trevor Cooney shot pretty well, but he only took seven shots. So much of the focus of the offense -- especially in the first half -- was in the paint and down low, so Cooney didn't see much action.
- The crowd was announced at nearly 23,000. I assume that's the 19,000 season tickets they sold (many of whom probably didn't show up) along with maybe 4,000 other tickets sold. Actual attendance was probably 13-14k. On the bright side, the student section had a very strong showing, and nearly all stayed till the end.
Syracuse starts the season 1-0 and "advances on" in the 2K Classic. I mean, regardless of the outcome of Sunday's game against Hampton, Syracuse will play in the semifinals of the tournament in Madison Square Garden on Thursday night against California. Good times. I mean, Syracuse basketball is back, how could it not be good times?