CHARLOTTE — I sat down with Syracuse guard Tyus Battle during ACC Media Day to talk about playing for Jim Boeheim, the perils of facing the 2-3 zone and his thoughts on Buddy playing for his father. Here’s what he had to say:
The Juice Online: With Elijah [Hughes], with Buddy [Boeheim], some outside shooters, some injuries in the backcourt, maybe we see you more at the 1 and running the offense?
Tyus Battle: We’ll see. We’ll see. It’s up to coach. We have really good point guards. We have three point guards right now. Frank [Howard]. Howard Washington. And Jalen [Carey]. They’re really good at the point. But coach always puts the ball in my hands and lets me run plays. He’s really good and switching things up and his game plans have been working so far.
TJO: Last team in the tournament last year. The emotion that night on Selection Sunday. We all saw what Syracuse’s zone defense can do when teams only have a few days; they can’t prepare. They can’t replicate your zone in practice. That seems to be the signature. Where are we now for the upcoming regular season, the ACC, and the NCAA Tournament?
TB: We have all five starters back. We should start off really well. Our defense should start off really well. Of course, it improves over the span of the season, but it’s been looking really good so far. Like you said, it’s hard for teams to replicate it when it comes to Tournament time. You don’t have guys who are 6’6″ playing the one and the two. Then you have a 7’2″ kid down low and 6’9″ wings. It’s hard to score on us. If you can’t score on us, it’s going to be hard to beat us.
TJO: You’re the latest preseason All-American in this storied program. Jim Boeheim’s been here 43 years. What’s it like playing with a Hall of Fame coach?
TB: It’s amazing. Just playing for a Hall of Fame coach, taking in all of that basketball knowledge, it’s something you dream up when you start up playing basketball. Just to have the opportunity to do this, and put Syracuse across my chest, it’s an amazing honor. Coach is an amazing guy, not just on the court, but off the court. He’s always helping his guys out. So just to be a part of that legacy, it’s amazing.
TJO: Now, he can’t accomplish much more than he already has, but now he’s coaching his son. As a teammate, when you see a coach as esteemed as him, when he has his son, he’s doing that so late in his life, talk about that.
TB: It’s amazing. I’ve seen Buddy’s progression over the past few years. He’s always in the gym. He’s gotten better every single year. He can shoot it so well. I think he’s going to have a really good season. He’s going to make his Dad proud.
TJO: Is that going to be an element where we are going to be surprised to see some outside shooting between Elijah and Buddy?
TB: Oh yeah, they can really shoot the ball. They can put the ball in the basket. They’ve got high basketball IQ. They’re going to help us a lot.