For the first time in nearly a half-century, Syracuse is beginning a season without coach Jim Boeheim on the sideline.
Adrian Autry is now the man in charge of the Orange, who open their season on Monday against visiting New Hampshire.
Boeheim stepped down last spring following a 47-season run at Syracuse, where his 2-3 zone defense became a staple of the college basketball scene over the decades.
Boeheim’s accolades included five Final Four appearances and a national championship in 2003. However, his success had become more sporadic in recent years. The Orange missed the NCAA Tournament in his final two seasons, leaving Autry — a former player under Boeheim and then his long-time assistant coach — to orchestrate a bit of a rebuilding effort.
“We gotta make a jump,” Autry said of the Orange, who went 17-15 last season, including 10-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. “We have to make an improvement. We have to progress. And that’s my mindset. We gotta make progress, record-wise, we gotta make progress in different areas of the program.”
The cupboard isn’t bare for Autry, who has a strong sophomore backcourt in Judah Mintz and J.J. Starling. Mintz averaged 16.3 points and 4.3 assists for the Orange last season, while Starling – a former five-star recruit – pitched in 11.2 points for Notre Dame last season before transferring to Syracuse.
On the other hand, the Orange lost two key players to transfers. Veteran guard Joe Girard (16.4 points) and top big man Jesse Edwards (14.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks) moved on to Clemson and West Virginia, respectively.
New Hampshire (15-15, 9-7) is coming off a third-place finish in the America East Conference.
Senior forward Clarence Daniels returns after averaging team highs of 15.3 points and 10.7 rebounds a season ago. He was named to the preseason AEC first team.
“I think fans can expect an exciting brand of basketball,” said first-year coach Nathan Davis, who spent the previous eight seasons coaching at Bucknell.
“We should be a team that plays unselfishly, plays together and plays with great pace. We really are going to try to put pressure on the defense to guard us until we get the shots we want.”
–Field Level Media
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