Syracuse will play the first of two exhibition games when it hosts Indiana (PA) at the JMA Wireless Dome on Tuesday evening. Here are five things to watch for.
1. Does Quadir Copeland play more key minutes?
In Syracuse’s first exhibition match against Indiana (PA), Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim rotated all of his scholarship players in the first half, and tried several oddball lineups. As a result, the Crimson Hawks went into halftime up 33-32. Boeheim buckled down in the second half, using a tight rotation, and his lineup of Judah Mintz, Joe Girard, Quadir Copeland, Benny Williams and Jesse Edwards were the catalysts behind a 16-0 run that allowed the Orange to win easily, 86-68. Copeland was particularly impressive, even though the stat sheet only showed five points and two assists. His pass-first mentality and slashing ability kept the ball moving and he outshined fellow freshmen Justin Taylor and Chris Bell. It will be worth paying attention to if Boeheim once again goes to Copeland, recruited as a point guard, in the back half of the zone again.
2. How will Boeheim distribute PG minutes?
Mintz played the majority of the minutes against Indiana. He outplayed backup Symir Torrence 32-10 in the backcourt, though some of that was due to Torrence getting hurt in the first half. Does Boeheim envision more of a 25-15 split in other circumstances? If Torrence is fully healthy, this is something worth paying attention to.
3. Who backs up Jesse Edwards?
I asked this question last week, and it still applies tonight. Peter Carey (8 minutes), John Bol Ajak (4), Mounir Hima (6) and Maliq Brown (8), all appeared at center at one point. Of note, Hima was the only one of the group to record a block. It’s unlikely that Boeheim would go with four backup centers, likely preferring to play only in the rotation. His distribution of minutes suggests that the role is still up for grabs, and who plays more against the Penmen could be a harbinger of who has the inside track.
4. Can Bell bounce back?
Bell was not shy last Tuesday. He fired freely and often, attempting 9 shots on the night, and 6 of them beyond the arc. The problem was, he only hit one of his shots. Afterward, Boeheim commented the next night, he could go 6 for 9. Well, this is the next night. It would be nice to see Bell find his shooting rhythm before the season starts.
5. How does Girard continue to settle into his new role?
Girard looked comfortable in his new role as the team’s starting shooting guard, hitting 3 of 8 shots from downtown for a team-high 17 points against Indiana. He also dished out a team-high five assists. With Copeland and Mintz on the floor, Girard, SU’s starting point guard last year, becomes the third ball handling option now. Girard took a few too many ‘hero’ shots from deep in the first half, but in the second half, his shots came more within the flow of the offense. With Boeheim potentially tightening the rotation against SNHU, expect Girard to shine even more.