Orange Watch: New flavor of ‘orange’ for Syracuse basketball

Nov 27, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin (0) shoots the ball against the defense of Bryant University Bulldogs guard Chris Childs (30) during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Item: With annual attrition for every college basketball program whether that’s one and done talent, transfers, and of course the lifeblood of recruiting, it creates a dose of excitement at the start of each new season to see how the parts of the puzzle fit together. Following Syracuse’s first 3-0 start since 2017, and heading into Tuesday night’s game at Rutgers in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge series (9:30 p.m. ET/ESPN2) minus two starters, it’s been fascinating to watch how the new players on the ‘Cuse roster will contribute to the team’s success in an unusual season full of unknown.

It’s been fun so far watching the newcomers in the early portion of the schedule, providing a glimpse of the different on court looks Jim Boeheim will have at his disposal, especially in a year in which players may miss time due to pandemic-related issues or injury.

Here’s how the always candid Boeheim has summed up the top five newcomers in his various lineups from postgame comments made following the first three games (edited for clarity):

Alan Griffin: “Alan’s still trying to figure (things) out. When he caught the ball at Illinois (last two seasons) they just told him to shoot it. So, he’s catching (the ball) and trying to shoot. He’s a good shooter, (but) he’s got to learn (if he) has a shot. (If) he doesn’t, make a pass, make a play. It’s a work in progress, it’s going to take time. He put the ball on the floor a couple of times (vs. Niagara) and got the basket. That’s all good. He’s learning the zone, it’s tough when you’re playing forward and guard.”

Kadary Richmond: “I think if you ask him, he’d (admit) he’s not in shape. He’s never had to work this hard. He’s told a lot of people ‘I’ve never had to work this hard in my life.’ He’s still not ready (conditioning-wise). He still gets tired pretty quickly, but he’s got tremendous skills, he’s got the tools, (he) just has to get in better shape.

Woody Newton: “Woody’s really stepped up. I like what he’s done, I really do. He’s been getting those shots and making them. I don’t know if he’ll make his first four shots every night (as he did vs. Rider), but he’s capable. He’s pretty good getting up and down the court, (he’s in good game condition).”

» Related: Key takeaways from Syracuse basketball’s win over Rider

Frank Anselem: “I was actually encouraged with Frank’s last five minutes (against Rider). He was good. He was active, he moved well, he surprised me. He hasn’t been that good in practice but he was good in the game. Sometimes guys show up and play a little bit better in the game than you might think.”

John Bol Ajak: “I am happy with Bol’s movement. The bigger guys will be better when we’re playing bigger teams. These little teams that are spreading us out, we’re better with a smaller center (Marek Dolezaj). But that doesn’t mean they can’t help us against the bigger teams.”

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.