SU's first exhibition game showcases another deep SU squad

The Orange breezed through the Holy Family Tigers by a score of 79-41, but Boeheim was able to see how his newest team played together in a game situation, especially Tyler Ennis and Michael Gbinjie.

The Orange took no time to look back after its quick start to the season when they played Holy Family University Friday night in an exhibition game. The Orange took a quick 10-point lead thanks to the sharpshooting of Trevor Cooney, and would go on to beat the Tigers 79-41.

Photo: Shawn Miller
C.J. Fair goes up and over Holy Family's Derrick Stewart, 24, in the first half of Syracuse's 79-41 victory Friday night.

“We did a lot of good things and we did some things that, first time out, we’re going to have to do better,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “It’s a good learning experience.”

Tyler Ennis pushed the pace early, capitalizing off 10 Tigers’ turnovers with quick transition points and ball movement that led to open looks for his fellow teammates. An early benefiter of those looks was Cooney, who hit his first two three-pointers of the game to lift the Orange to an early game lead.

The Orange had a total of nine fast break points in the first half, showcasing its defensive emphasis on forcing turnovers and pushing the ball up the court. Ennis took advantage of those looks early, scoring eight consecutive SU points late in the first half to give the Orange an excessive lead.

“I think Tyler (Ennis) got caught on a couple of lobs and just wasn’t in the right position,” Boeheim said. “He’s going to be fine. I’m not worried about that.”

Turnovers were merely a secondary issue for the Tigers as it had an incredibly tough time finding the bottom of the basket in the first half. Holy Family shot 20 percent from the field in the first half and an abysmal 6.3 percent from behind the arc. That gave the Orange long rebounds, enabling it to continue a fast paced attack.

“I thought we did a good job moving defensively,” Boeheim said. “There’s a lot of things we can improve on.”

Jerami Grant was involved early and often as well, getting to the free throw line a total of seven times in the first half. Grant came off the bench for the Orange as DaJuan Coleman, Rakeem Christmas, C.J. Fair, Ennis and Cooney got the start for the game. Grant finished the game with 13 points and three rebounds.

“Confidence comes from working and practicing hard with the team,” Grant said. “After my experiences playing last year I definitely feel prepared to help lead the freshman this season.” 

Fair had trouble with his stroke in the first half, missing four of his first five shots, but his shot started to fall in the second half after he threw down a powerful dunk. He hit back-to-back three-pointers and hit a mid-range jump shot just a few moments afterward, giving him 10 points for the half and 13 points overall.

The second half emphasized more of SU’s bench as Boeheim looked to get a wider look at the talent level of the team. Michael Gbinije, a transfer from Duke University, played a total of 24 minutes and filled up the box score with five rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks. Gbinije was forced to sit out for one season after he transferred from Duke.

“I’m not going to lie, it felt pretty good,” Gbinije said on his first time playing at the Carrier Dome. “During warm ups I still felt like I was in street clothes and not able to play.”

But with good comes bad, Boeheim said, and Gbinije showed some of his struggles at the point guard position, turning the ball over five times.

The learning experience is just one of the two exhibition games that the Orange will play this season. SU plays Ryerson at home next Thursday for its second exhibition game of the season.

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