Men’s basketball rings in 2022-2023 season
Men's basketball rings in 2022-2023 season
The Syracuse University men’s basketball team rang in the new season with its annual media day at Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center. SU head coach Jim Boeheim and players spoke about the hard work they put in during the offseason and the composition of a relatively young team with six freshmen.
The Orange Tip-Off event followed media day, where SU men’s and women’s basketball players showcased their talents in inter-squad scrimmages.
Sophomore forward Benny Williams was the main talk of the two-hour media session. Multiple reporters inquired about the type of bounce-back sophomore campaign the 6’8″ wing from Bowie, MD could have.
Boeheim complimented Williams for his hard work in the off-season and for being transparent about having a disappointing freshman year.
“I think he has worked harder,” Boeheim said. “I think his shooting has improved, much better place and much higher level than he was at last year. I think he has continued to get better every day.”
“He knew he wasn’t ready [last year] and prepared to do what he needed to do,” Boeheim said.
Williams said he’s been working hard on improving his shooting and becoming a more complete three-level scorer. He will need to be huge this year with a crowded backcourt and thin frontcourt in order to be a consistent impact player and to get this team back into the tournament.
Boeheim bites back
Boeheim came into the presser with a few things to get off his chest. He urged fans and media to calm down and fight against a worst-case scenario mindset, with a reporter asking him beforehand whether or not this SU team was going to be NCAA tournament-caliber.
“I was asked for the first time in 47 years whether or not we’d make the tournament this week,” Boeheim said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever been asked that. Now, if I had been asked that question the previous 46 [times], I would’ve said yes 46 times.”
He also spoke about the ACC’s strength and how fans and media have recently been sensationalizing the downturn of SU basketball. He used the Big Ten as an example of a conference that is perceived to be stronger because of its regular-season record but shrivels up in NCAA tournament play.
“You can say what you want about the Big Ten. They sucked in the tournament,” he said. “To me, that’s what they did. All of their wins were in their league. If you can’t play in the [NCAA] tournament, then you’re not good.”
Strong words indeed from the legendary Hall of Fame coach. Let’s hope he has the players and season to back them up.
Diaper dandy freshmen
If reporters weren’t asking about Benny Williams, they were asking about this freshmen-heavy class. This 6-man class is headlined by former Oak Hill Academy guard Judah Mintz, former IMG Academy wing Justin Taylor and point guard Quadir Copeland from Philadelphia.
All three of these guys bring excitement and critical elements to this roster with their shooting, defense and shot creation on the perimeter, things this SU team will need with the departure of Buddy Boeheim.
Mintz, in particular, has drawn rave reviews from national pundits and has been compared to former Syracuse great Johnny Flynn with his natural leadership and explosive quickness with the ball in his hands.
Boeheim explains how Mintz has separated himself from the other freshmen.
“He understands the positions, really knows how to play the position, he’s athletically very gifted…he’s taller than some really good point guards we’ve had [in the past], and he’s been very good in practice,” Boeheim said.
The Orange takes on the Tip-Off event
Mintz clearly looked like the team’s best player at the Orange Tip-Off event on Friday, and this team will only go as far as he takes them. He does need to work on the consistency with his jumper and, with all young guards, making more of the simple, right play than the top that will get you in the SportsCenter Top 10.
However, he is already a blur in transition and able to get anywhere he wants to on the court with his handle. Ultimately, he looks like the type of guy that should not be in ‘Cuse for more than 2-3 years before he pursues NBA opportunities. SU fans should get as much Judah Joy as they can before he’s gone.