After Syracuse’s 79-41 exhibition win against Holy Family on Friday evening, reporters swarmed around C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant. Reserve point guard Michael Gbinije was not the center of attention.
There was a good reason why: Gbinije had an off night going 1-6. Even the plays that showcased his potential came with mixed results.
In the first half, he made a good play by picking off a pass and raced down the court for what should’ve been an easy layup.
But he couldn’t finish it.
“Once that happened,” Gbinije said, “I was deflated.”
That carried into the second half, when Gbinije struggled to break the press. He turned the ball over five times by the end of the game. Needless to say, Gbinije needs to make some adjustments, and the first exhibition game served as a good wake up call.
“Mistakes can be shadowed by hard work,” he said, “I need to work on being a better leader on the court especially vocally.”
Gbinije has not played competitive basketball in over a year after he transferred from Duke. NCAA rules require that transfers sit out for one season. So, it’s not a surprise for Gbinije to be off to a slow start after redshirting a year.
“It felt good to get back in the groove of things and knock some of the cobwebs off,” Gbinije said. “During warm-ups I felt like I was still wearing my street clothes and I wasn’t allowed to play but I had to focus. I am no longer an observer.”
It will only be a matter of time before Gbinije adjusts and gets comfortable playing. Though Gbinije will be playing minutes at point guard, his versatility allows him to play at the off guard and also at the wing spots.
Once he can make proper reads and communicate them effectively on the court he will be a crucial player for the Orange.
After all, it’s still only the exhibition season.
“If we had other ball handlers out there with him such as C.J., it may have helped since he had freshmen out there,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He was under pressure a lot but overall he did a good job.”
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