Syracuse’s Tuesday night tilt with Ryerson, while an exhibition against an overmatched team, did show a few things that the Orange and their fans can take from a mostly meaningless contest. The 81-46 final does not tell the whole story, both for better and for worse:
- C.J. Fair may never be the vocal leader of this Syracuse team, but he may just be the leader they need. With the Orange playing a choppy game in the first half, Fair turned up the aggression on the offensive end and simply made baskets. None of them were truly sensational plays that dropped jaws, but time and again, he found cracks in the Rams’ defense and scored. Fair can simply fill the lead scoring role for SU this season.
- While Fair will be the top dog on the scoreboard, freshman point guard Tyler Ennis is the most important player to this team. Ennis simply guided the team in the first half, not forcing anything, but using a steady hand to get SU into their offense, logging three assists and only taking one shot. In the second half, Ennis turned up the volume on his game, looking to score. Ennis is capable of handling these dual roles and do so with a calm, professional demeanor. The team needs him to stay healthy.
- The reason Ennis is the most important player is that there is no true backup point guard on the Syracuse roster. Michael Gbinije is a work in progress, still learning the point guard position. He’s not a great ballhandler, which is particularly evident against pressure, and his passing needs some work. That said…
- Gbinije’s work in the exhibition games needs to be graded on a curve. While neither of his efforts to this point are going to be used as examples in a basketball textbook, Gbinije has been put in a tough spot. The redshirt sophomore has come into games and spent most of his time on the floor at point guard with reserves. While that means he has often played with Jerami Grant and Baye Moussa Keita, he also played with two or even three freshmen. It will be interesting to see how he looks in a situation with some more Orange vets on the floor.
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- DaJuan Coleman had a double-double, but his best work came at the foul line. A 46.2 percent shooter at the line as a freshman, Coleman made 7-of-10 against Ryerson. His stroke looks pretty fluid, but there are a couple parts of his stroke that can lead to potential issues. He still looked great at the stripe on Tuesday, including during a pre-game workout.
- In that same workout, Baye Moussa Keita proved he was the best shooter among the three veteran centers on the team. Keita has a nice smooth stroke out to 12-to-15-foot range. No, seriously.
- There is no reason to think Jim Boeheim will part ways with the 2-3 zone, but freshman guard Ron Patterson looks like he could be a defensive stopper in a man-to-man scheme. Aggression and awareness are two great characteristics for a freshman guard to have on the defensive end of the floor. His energy on that end will also net him some minutes over the course of the season
- Jerami Grant is going to embarrass someone, or several someones, over the course of the season with his dunking ability.
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