Syracuse basketball’s Italy exhibition — What We Learned

Bourama Sidibe
Syracuse center Bourama Sidibe (34) pulls down a rebound against Colgate. Mandatory Photo Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

Syracuse closed its four-game exhibition swing through Italy with a 82-42 win over Virtus Roma on Sunday to finish a perfect 4-0. With the preseason games now in the books, it’s time to look back on what we learned from those games.

THE RISE OF SIDIBE

Syracuse center Bourama Sidibe has had a frustrating two first years with the Orange. He was limited by knee injuries in his first two years, averaging just 2.7 points and 3.2 rebounds in 12.4 minutes a game in his freshman year, and his sophomore year was actually a step back.

Last year, Sidibe found himself mostly out of the rotation at the end of the season, and registered 1.9 ppg and 2.7 rpg in 10.1 minutes.

But Sidibe finally appears to be healthy, and it showed in Italy. He looked active, mobile and agile anchoring the zone, averaging 12 rebounds through the four games, including 17 rebounds in the preseason tour finale against Virtus Roma, a 82-42 win.

One of the biggest questions in the offseason is how Syracuse would find production from the center position with Paschal Chukwu moving on. Sidibe, a four-star recruit out of high school, could be that answer, and he could also give the Orange a legitimate low-post presence, something SU has lacked since Rakeem Christmas.

» Related: Our wish list for Boeheim’s Army in the 2020 TBT

PRECOCIOUS GUERRIER

Quincy Guerrier looks like he’ll be ready to shoulder big time minutes.

With Marek Dolezaj unable to play because of a finger injury, Guerrier stepped into the starting lineup, and played the most minutes of all the freshmen during the trip.

He proved that he can be a three-level scorer, and capping off the trip with a 14-point, 12-rebound performance. Guerrier showed a consistent motor throughout the exhibition games, finishing as SU’s second-leading rebounder behind Sidibe.

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim will have some interesting decisions to make in the coming months, including who he will start. Dolezaj has experience and was playing starter minutes toward the end of the 2019 season. But he’s also been accustomed to coming off the bench, and Guerrier appears ready for the spotlight.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF OFFENSE

Syracuse’s offense will be more exciting to watch this season.

With more limited options in the past two years, the Orange was resigned to walk the ball up and milk the clock in a half-court set. It appears this year’s edition of the Orange will not take after its two predecessors.

For one, Syracuse will look to get out on the fast break as much as possible. Point guards Jalen Carey and Brycen Goodine looked to push the pace as much as possible, resulting in SU averaging a shade over 92 points per game and 15.7 assists per game.

With more outside shooting options, the Orange will also rely more on the 3-point shot. Goodine, Guerrier, Joe Girard, Robert Braswell, Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim are all capable shooters, and in the four games, Syracuse averaged nearly 35 3-point attempts per contest.

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Wes Cheng
About Wes Cheng 2488 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.