Charlotte, N.C. – A quick take on the announcement of the annual pre-season selections for ACC basketball and the media day event held this week at the downtown Spectrum Center:
WHAT HAPPENED: In the annual ACC poll going back to 1970 among members of the media covering what’s now known as “Operation Basketball,” Syracuse was selected to finish fourth behind Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina, receiving one first place vote as well. Junior guard Tyus Battle was named to the first team preseason all-league team, receiving the second highest vote total behind North Carolina’s Luke Maye. ‘Cuse newcomer Jalen Carey was sixth in the vote total for freshman of the year. Behind SU the order of finish was VT, CU, FSU, NCSU, UM, UL, BC, GT, WF, and Pitt. Some 121 members of the media, including yours truly, participated in the voting.
ANALYSIS: The Orange being an ACC “Final Four” preseason team would play out to another postseason meeting with Duke in the 2019 ACC Tournament being held at the lovely Spectrum Center, and it certainly fits most other early predictions of where the ‘Cuse stands in the pecking order with five returning starters. It was obvious Battle was going to be a first team choice coming off his All-American mentions and preseason magazine covers. Battle and Maye, also named preseason player of the year, are joined by Duke freshman RJ Barrett, also the media choice as freshman of the year, and Virginia’s Kyle Guy and B.C.’s Ky Bowman as first team selections.
HERO: After spending quality time with Battle at media day, it’s clear he’s ready to carry the Orange on his back to go another weekend further in this year’s NCAA Tournament, destination Minneapolis. “It’s all I think about since I decided to come back,” he proclaimed, “winning a national championship.” Jim Boeheim was his entertaining self on a number and range of topics for an hour plus, catering to everyone from the national college hoops writers and radio row talk show hosts, to nervous students. The large arena set-up made for an interesting venue for media day rather than the usual hotel ballrooms. There was plenty of room which lent itself to plenty of socializing among the team members, the media, and conference administrators.
ZERO: No disrespect to Barrett’s talent, after all he’s the consensus top ranked player in the 2019 class out of the same Toronto suburb as SU’s Oshae Brissett. But he’s one of four top new players on the Blue Devils joining second team preseason selection Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones. In a league filled with great collegiate players on the second team list, how much separation can there be for Barrett to be named first team without playing one game?
WHAT’S NEXT: The start of the two game exhibition portion of the schedule against Div. II opponents. It begins with Thursday night’s match-up against The College of Saint Rose at the Dome (7:00 p.m. ET / ACC Network Extra). With injuries to guards Frank Howard, Howard Washington, and Jalen Carey, expect to see Battle bringing up the ball at times running the offense, and a combination of lineups for Jim Boeheim to evaluate. Le Moyne is the other Dome exhibition opponent Halloween night, Oct. 31, also a 7:00 p.m. ET game time.