Michael Gbinije is no stranger to the ACC.
The 6-foot-7 Duke transfer feels fully prepared for the upcoming season after one year of playing for Duke and another year of redshirting at SU. Like the rest of his team, he cannot wait to play against Duke.
While at Duke he was averaging about five minutes a game. That will definitely not be the case this year at Syracuse.
As a versatile player with prior experience and an extra year of training, Gbinije is a luxury for the team.
Gbinije has been impressive on offense and defense with the ability to make plays in the paint and in transition. Syracuse assistant coach Gerry McNamara, who has worked extensively with Gbinije, says he has really improved on his ability to read into situations and to run plays.
“Having a guy that is a year older can be really beneficial. He will help us win games this year, no doubt about that,” Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins said. “He spent all of last year with us playing in game situations so he understands our system well.”
Like Gbinije, Trevor Cooney redshirted at Syracuse. Cooney made his debut last season and, thanks to the redshirt year, was able to shoot the ball well in spurts.
Both players were able to flaunt their talent during Orange Madness in the Dome on Friday as Cooney went 6-9 from the arc and Gbinije ended up winning the dunk contest.
But Gbinije, who likes to label himself as a combo guard, will be called upon to play a lot of point guard. Gbinije did a lot of that during his redshirt year, playing against Michael Carter-Williams.
“I’m absolutely ready,” he says when asked about playing point guard as a back up to freshman Tyler Ennis.
Gbinije also brings another advantage this season. Having already played with Duke and in the ACC, he is stepping into familiar territory, unlike the rest of his team.
“You have always had this one year in the ACC. You are already one step over all of us,” Baye Moussa Keita said, jokingly, to Gbinije.
Said McNamara: “His biggest advantage is learning from two of the most winningest coaches of all time. He has seen great work ethic and has learned different styles of play.”