Syracuse basketball gets its season underway Friday night with an exhibition game against Holy Family University. The Orange is coming off one of its most successful seasons in recent memory, heading to the Final Four in Atlanta last April. SU surprised many after being left for dead at the end of the regular season, but after a Big East Tournament appearance and 4 straight wins in the NCAA Tournament in March before its loss to Michigan, the Orange is back ready to go in 2013.
Coach Jim Boeheim enters his 38th year as head coach at Syracuse, with an all-time record of 920-314. Once more, he'll be joined this season on the sidelines by Mike Hopkins, Gerry McNamara, and Adiran Autry.
On the court, senior C.J. Fair returns from season's 30-10 squad. In fact, the last 2 seasons have been 30-win campaigns for the Orange, marking the first time that has happened in school history. As for Fair, the senior was named the pre-season ACC player of the year by the media two weeks ago, and expects the pressure this season from a myriad of tough opponents. Fair averaged 14.5 points per game last season, and 7 rebounds a contest. He was named to the 2nd-team all-Big East.
Other returns for the Orange include big men Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman. Christmas started 40 games last season and averaged 5.1 ppg and 4.6 rebounds per game. Trevor Cooney, Jerami Grant, and senior Baye Moussa Keita also return as key reserves for SU this season. All three averaged close to four points per contest. Coach Boeheim says he expects a lot out of redshirt sophomore Cooney this season, relying on his as three point shooter.
Michael Gbinije highlights the newcomers for Syracuse. The Duke transfer was with the Orange last season, but sat out due to transfer rules. A sophomore, Gbinije expects to back up at the guard position. He ran point guard last season during practices for Coach Boeheim.
Five freshman also join the SU ranks in the fall of 2013. The fresh faces include Tyler Ennis, B.J Johnson, Ron Patterson, Tyler Roberson, and Chinonso Obokoh (expected to redshirt). The Orange recruiting class was ranked 7th in the nation by ESPN.com.
Ennis should be the star of the bunch, as he is expected to start at point guard, replacing NBA Rookie of the Year candidate Michael Carter-Williams. Ennis, an Ontario native who played his high school basketball in New Jersey, was a member of the Canadian U-19 team and was also selected for the 2013 Jordan Brand Classic game as a senior in high school.
As for Syracuse's first opponent, Holy Family played on the NAIA level until 2000 when the universtiy moved up to the NCAA's Division II. The Tigers program has had its struggles, but last year the Tigers went 18-10 and won the Central Atlantic Athletic Conference's South Division.
The time for tip-off is at 7 PM from the Carrier Dome on Friday. You can catch all the action between Syracuse and Holy Family on WAER 88.3 FM in Syracuse of the exhibition game or tune in here on waer.org.