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The good thing about early season tournaments is that you won't have to win the opening games to advance. Nevertheless, it's good that Syracuse did on Saturday night in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis against Elon. Except, this game didn't have the excitement of being at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. I've been there. The place is amazing. Go sometime if you have a chance. Anyway, Saturday night's game came on the heels of an awful Syracuse football loss where it seemed like the players had given up and Coach Shafer had as well, so I think we all wanted to retreat into the (relative) consistency of Orange Basketball. And it was as consistent as it's been this season: scary at times, lots of threes, but in the end a Syracuse victory, 66-55.

  • If we're lucky, we saw the emergence of Tyler Roberson: Offensive Juggernaut. If we're not, we only saw him score 20 points on 9-15 shooting, and pull down 16 rebounds (seven offensive) for a double double. As you would suspect, none of his points came beyond the arc (he didn't even attempt a 3) so his ability to get inside to score, or his short/mid jumpers, is an important part of Syracuse gaining balance.
  • Michael Gbinije had a good night with 16 points, including 3-3 from 3, and a perfect 5-5 from the line.
  • Malachi Richardson managed a 13 point effort despite being 1-7 from the floor. He made up for it by going 10-12 on free throws.
  • Trevor Cooney had another ho hum game.
  • The center position remains a work in progress. Starter Dajuan Coleman played only 10 minutes and was a perfect 1-1 from the floor. In his absence, freshman Tyler Lydon played 35 minutes. If you've been reading my recaps, you know I've been talking Lydon up in the previous two games, and he again didn't disappoint against Elon. While he can shoot and he can penetrate, it's not the offense where he'll shine -- it's the defense. He's active, he seems to know how the zone works, and that's just monumental for a freshman. The drawback is his size; listed at 6'8", 210 lbs., Tyler won't be intimidating any ACC drivers. For now, though, the Elons of the world are good practice for Tyler.
  • If Syracuse could get a sizeable lead for long enough in a game, it would be nice to get Coleman more minutes. He's in better shape, he's older & more mature, and he's in theory smarter about the game, so in theory he just needs to shake off the rust. And it's hard to do that on the bench. I think down at Paradise Island he'll have to play more, just due to the fact of playing The UConns or Michigans of the world.
  • Back to this game, Syracuse shot a meh 39.2% from the field, but a respectable 40.0% from three, and a rather amazing 80% from the charity stripe. They also had 15 turnovers which turned into 15 Elon points.
Syracuse hasn't dominated so far this season, so it'll be interesting to see what they can do in the Bahamas, particularly against the power conference teams. Well, to the extend the American Athletic Conference is power. Damn, it's gonna be so much fun if Syracuse gets to play UConn!

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