Item: The transitional junior year of current assistant coach Allen Griffin.
When we wrote last month about the return of Tyus Battle providing Jim Boeheim with his NCAA Sweet 16 starting five intact, and that Battle’s decision provided the most starting five experience since the 2003-04 team returned four starters to the 2004-05 team that was upset by Vermont in an NCAA first round, No. 13 over No. 4, shocker at Worcester, Mass.
Prior to 2005, the starting five actually did return intact for the 1999-2000 season, although one of the five starters from the previous 1998-99 season, then junior, and current second-year Boeheim assistant (in his second staff stint) Allen Griffin, did not start in any of the team’s 32 games, although he did play in each contest averaging just 3.0 points per game.
After his sophomore season in which he started all 33 games and averaged a team fourth-best 8.0 points per game with 104 assists, Boeheim inserted Tony Bland into the starting lineup as the shooting guard moving Griffin to the point behind Jason Hart. Ironically, it was reserve Preston Shumpert, not Bland, who joined returning starters Hart, Damone Brown, Ryan Blackwell, and Etan Thomas all averaging double figures.
Griffin would regain his starting job as a senior in 2000-01, averaging almost 11.0 points per game with a whopping 220 assists (second in the Big East), finishing his Orange career having played on four NCAA teams and missing only one of his 134 games in a ‘Cuse uniform.