The Orange topped Pace 79-60 in the first exhibition game. Here are the takeaways from the game.
1. Jesse Edwards
Edwards got the start at center and finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four blocks. Syracuse would take that production from him in most games. But this was against a division two team without the size to adequately combat Edwards. That said, there was one aspect of his performance that I found the most impressive. His hands. Last season, when Edwards would have the ball dropped off to him to set up a finishing opportunity, he would fumble the ball out of bounds more often than not. In this game, Edwards showed significantly improved hands. He caught lobs, low post feeds, drop offs, etc. Everything thrown his way, he caught and immediately turned into the next move or to the rim to finish. It was a very positive sign for his development.
2. Benny Williams
Williams flashed some of his supreme athleticism that makes him such an intriguing talent. However, the one aspect of his game that impressed me the much was his passing ability. On multiple occasions, Williams got into the lane and made a play for one of his teammates. Passes were delivered accurately and he finished with three assists on the night. He also had seven points, nine rebounds and two steals, but it was his passing that was the most impressive.
Speaking of passing, Syracuse's entire team pass the ball extremely well in this game. On 30 field goals, Syracuse had 26 assists. Syracuse was a good passing team last season, but has the potential to be even better this season and improved Joe Girard and the other additions. Five players had at least three assists and seven had at least two.
Girard did not have a great shooting night, but he had six assists. I thought he looked more comfortable playing the point guard role and finding teammates in the lane. Syracuse is going to need that from him all season, so this was an encouraging step even with the level of competition.
5. Rebounding, Turnovers and Free Throws
There were three areas of concern for Syracuse. The first was rebounding. Syracuse has an enormous size advantage against the Setters. Yet Syracuse only outrebounded Pace by three. Is this a sign that rebounding will be an issue this season or merely the first game with an abnormal rotation so one should not derive much? Similarly, Syracuse turned it over 14 times in this one. That is too many against most teams, but especially a division two team the Orange should dominate. And the turnovers came primarily from the starters. It could just be nerves or rust or a combination. Either way, it is an area to monitor moving forward. Lastly, Syracuse had major struggles from the free throw line, going just 8-21 (38%) from the charity stripe. Jimmy Boeheim was 3-7, Benny Williams 1-4 and Symir Torrence 2-5. Syracuse's two centers, Edwards and Frank Anselem, were 0-3. That has to be much better this season.