The 121st season in Syracuse Orange men’s basketball history began with a win, as Jim Boeheim officially claimed his 999th win (read: 1,100). Syracuse handled Lehigh inside the JMA Wireless Dome by a final score of 90-72.
The Seniors and Judah Mintz scored Syracuse in the season opener. After making his 92nd straight start, Joe Girard led with 19 points at 4-6 from wide. Jesse Edwards recorded the third double-double of his career, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Symir Torrence provided solid minutes off the bench with 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
Mintz, in his rookie debut, scored 10 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and provided 3 assists as a starting point guard. All 12 scholarship players saw time and 11 scored as Syracuse managed to seat Girard and Edwards during the final stretch.
With low conference caliber talent, it’s not surprising that Syracuse is looking to establish Jesse Edwards in this game, especially early on. Most of his scoring comes from rolls on the screens or dips into the hoop rather than taps on the low post, but Edwards has had success in this game around the tin. He made his first four shots on easy dunks, but he also took five first-half fouls and made his free throws (8-10).
We know Edwards is good, but how good can he be? He is alert as he puts the ball on the low post, as evidenced by a quick touch pass to Maliq Brown in the second half when the game doubles. But can he be a goal threat at the low post when the ball is low? Syracuse will try to establish him offensive and he is still just scratching the surface.
2-3 zone with man-man Principles
It is true.
Syracuse basketball started the season on man-to-man defense and remained for most of the game. The Orange defense dropped at several points to start as Lehigh jumped to an early 9-4 lead. The Mountain Hawks stuck with Syracuse for the first 12 minutes of action as the defense struggled to stop.
Whether by scheme or a better defensive unit, Syracuse switched to their traditional 2-3 zone to finish the half and had better success. Torrence provided good minutes as a reserve point guard and assisted in the rebounding department. Mounir Hima replaced Edwards around five minutes into the match and made his presence felt, catching a couple of rebounds and blocking two shots in a possession. Syracuse closed the time at 15-2 in the zone and extended the lead to 18 at halftime.
The second half mirrored the first in which Syracuse played mostly man with the starting group. With a big lead and the second group with Torrence, Hima, Brown, Justin Taylor and Quadir Copeland, Boeheim went to the zone and stayed to close the game, while Peter Carey and John Bol Ajak played the final four minutes.
Whether Syracuse sticks to the man with the starters and zones with the bench, or not, will be something to monitor in the future.
Hima as backup center
Hima seems to be the backup center behind Edwards. He gave solid first few minutes by scoring a bucket, blocking two shots and grabbing a couple of rebounds. If Edwards is able to stay out of trouble, there won’t be many minutes to get around. But either way, Hima looks like part of a Syracuse pivot with her 7-foot-8 wingspan — not exactly a bad fit for the zone.
Freshman center Peter Carey saw the court for the first time with just over four minutes to go. He blocked a shot and grabbed a rebound.