Everybody has a friend that doesn’t seem to get bothered by anything, remaining even-keeled all the time. We’ve all seen that family dog that never seems to fuss, even when it has little rugrats tugging on its ears and tail. And then there’s “Ol’ Reliable,” that car you’ve owned for years. No matter the weather conditions, whether you’re going fast or slow, or how many potholes you run over, Big Bessy performs the same at all times, never wavering.
Syracuse freshman point guard Tyler Ennis is that friend. He’s that dog. He’s “Ol’ Reliable”…all wrapped up into an orange basketball uniform.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is not one to heap praise on his players (especially young ones) just at will. If he does, they’ve either earned it (see Carmelo Anthony) or the media is unjustly ganging up on his players (without Gerry McNamara, the Orange wouldn’t have won 10 bleepin’ games, according to Boeheim).
But from Day One, Boeheim has been touting Ennis as one of the brightest young guards to show up on the SU hill in some time. Boeheim was hoping, check that… needing Ennis to show up and take over the reins from the start. With Michael Carter-Williams enjoying near triple-doubles in the NBA when healthy, Ennis was left as the only true point guard on the Syracuse roster.
So Boeheim has had to rely on Ennis. And the point guard from Canada has come through.
Through nine games, here are Ennis’ statistical ranks on the team: second in minutes (31 MPG) behind C.J. Fair, one of four Orange players in double figures in scoring (11.3 PPG), first in assists (4.9 APG) and second in steals (2.7 SPG, 0.1 behind Trevor Cooney).
Compare that to the season averages of other notable freshman point guards in recent SU lore and Ennis acquits himself pretty well:
- Ennis (2013-14): 31.0 MPG, 11.3 PPG, 4.9 APG, 2.7 SPG
- McNamara (2002-03): 35.3 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.2 SPG
- Jonny Flynn (2007-08): 35.5 MPG, 15.7 PPG, 5.3 APG, 1.5 SPG
- Carter-Williams (2011-12): 10.3 MPG, 2.7 PPG, 2.1 APG, 0.8 SPG
But by saving one statistical nugget, turnovers per game, it’s easier to see what has made Ennis stand out to this point compared to those same point guards in their freshman seasons:
- Ennis: 1.0 TPG
- McNamara: 2.4 TPG
- Flynn: 2.7 TPG
- Carter-Williams: 0.6 TPG
MCW played one-third of the minutes any of the other point guards played and Ennis still wasn’t that far off his turnover pace. Conversely, Ennis has been about two-and-a-half times better at holding onto the basketball than McNamara and Flynn.
Just watch him for a game or even half a game and you’ll see there’s a different pace to Ennis’ style. You can’t speed him up. He’s in control at all times, enforcing his cadence throughout the game.
More important than the points he scores and the assists he dishes out, the stamp Ennis has put on the style at which Syracuse has played this year has been his biggest contribution. He never looks flustered, even though he’s yet to reach double digits in career games played. In turn, he has a calming effect on the rest of the team, as if his teammates are almost thinking, “Hey, Tyler’s not worrying. Why should I?”
It’s an intangible quality, yet it oozes through the TV when you watch the Orange play. He has proven to be unflappable to this point.
So, go ahead. Tug on his ears. Rev his engine up. “Ol’ Reliable,” Tyler Ennis, is just beginning to rev up his engine. Boeheim’s Bunch would be wise to enjoy the ride because it appears Ennis is built to run like a Cadillac of Syracuse point guards.