Syracuse, with what is almost an entirely new roster, needs its veterans to contribute, and graduate transfer Geno Thorpe showed that he fit the role in Syracuse’s 80-67 win over Texas State University Saturday night.
Thorpe, who is still nursing an ankle injury, came to the Orange via Penn State and USF and is this year’s sole graduate.
In the 2016-2017 season, graduate transfers John Gillon and Andrew White III made their mark on the team: Gillon led the team in assists and made a school-record 48 consecutive free throws, while White surpassed Gerry McNamera’s 3-point shot record at 109—to McNamera’s 107. To say the bar is high for Thorpe is an understatement, but his team remains confident.
“He’s going to be an explosive scorer,” sophomore Tyus Battle said. “He can really score the ball. Knock down open threes, get to the lane, make plays in the lane. He’s definitely going to be that spark for us to get a couple buckets when he gets in the game.”
And Thorpe did palpably change the energy in the game. He was active at the top of the zone defense, dove after the ball and got tied up during steal attempts, and added timely scoring. He finished with 13 points on 3-for-7 shooting from downtown, one of five SU players in double digits.
“He helped us out a lot,” freshman forward Oshae Brissett said. “He picked us up at the end and got 13 points early, hitting those couple 3s and the and-ones and stuff like that gets us excited. It’s easier to play when everyone’s hyped and everyone wants to play and win. It was good for him to come off the bench and create that spark for us.”
While Thorpe may not be challenging White’s 3-point record, he is a reliable option when the heat is on Tyus Battle. He led USF in scoring and many have touted his 3-point shot, but he also plays the role of playmaker, having averaged a team-high 4.6 assists for the Bulls in the 2016-17 season.
With so many young players on the roster, Syracuse needs the wisdom that comes from his experience.
Ever humble, he seems to be a good role model for the guys about what it takes to win. With the schedule getting tougher as the season gets into full swing, Thorpe has the potential to make his own mark on Syracuse basketball.
“I just want to come in and do my role which is making plays, making sure I’m coming in and bringing energy, and knocking down open threes,” Thorpe said.
So far, it seems to be working.